The number of people divorcing after the age of 50 has been increasing in recent years. The trend of so-called gray divorces stems from a couple of factors, from reduced stigmas surrounding divorce to longer life expectancies.
If you are among the 25 percent of divorcing spouses over 50 years old, you will want to keep in mind a couple of things as you navigate the divorce process.
Major life changes
When people get older, they often go through significant life changes. Their children can be out of the house; they may have more free time to do things they enjoy; they may have health conditions or scares that change their perspective.
These situations can reveal dramatic differences in how two spouses see their relationship and their future together.
Because of this, it is possible that two people can be more amicable about divorcing when the relationship has run its course. As this NBC News article on the divorce of Bill and Melinda Gates notes, divorces involving older spouses are often not the result of a single, dramatic event. Instead, it is the result of having drifted apart over the years.
Thus, options like mediation can be an effective option for these parties. Mediating divorce-related matters allows parties to work through the process together and cooperatively, rather than going to court.
What is important?
In most divorces among older parties, issues like child custody and child support are not a problem. Rather, parties can be focused on matters like spousal support and property division. And they can have more complicated assets to manage due to decades of investments, career development and property purchases like real estate.
Further, people over 50 may be especially concerned with the outcome of a settlement and how it affects when you can retire, where you live and what you might leave for your children in terms of an inheritance.
Of course, every divorce is different, and every couple is unique. What may be important to you may not matter to someone in a similar situation. And while you may be part of a growing group of people looking to end long-term marriages, it can be wise to focus on your case and what you want as an individual.