Divorce isn’t just for middle age anymore. Studies show that “gray divorce” — marital splits among senior and nearly senior citizens – is increasingly common. According to a Pew Research Center report from March of this year, the divorce rate for married people in the US age 50 and older is now about double what it was in the 1990’s.
And, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and US Census Bureau, the divorce rate for those 65 and older tripled from 1990 to 2015. Experts say the trend makes sense. When seniors divorce, it tends to be less acrimonious and, with people living longer, they don’t want to spend their retirement years in an unhappy union.
It’s certainly easier when there are no kids or custody issues involved. But divorce is still divorce, and splitting up after decades has its own set of complications. And divorcing later in life doesn’t always make it any less messy.
No matter what your tax bracket is, for seniors who are contemplating divorce, there’s a lot to consider – like financial stability and finding companionship at this stage in life.
Of course couples are warned against impetuously throwing in the towel.1
However, if after discernment it is decided that a divorce is necessary, Collaborative divorce should be considered. It is not uncommon for older couples to have children and grandchildren in common. There is a good likelihood that there will be marriages and religious and other activities such as birthday parties to consider.
There is no reason why the divorce process has to devolve into ugliness. As a marital and family law attorney in Clearwater Florida, I have helped older clients through the divorce process in a way that maintains dignity.
I always ask my clients to reflect upon how much control they have over the problems they are faced with. Many times, a client doesn’t want the divorce. That is something they cannot control. But there are still things that are within one’s sphere of control. One such controllable option is the option of collaborative divorce. In this process, the parties retain specially trained attorneys who bring in other professionals to act as a problem solving team.
It is a process that works. Older couples who need to be divorced should consider it.
1 Lewak, Doree. “This is what divorce looks like after 50 years of marriage.” The New York Times. June 14th, 2017.