When a couple has been married for just a few years before deciding to divorce, the process is often fairly easy, especially if there are no children involved. The parties split assets and move on, in most cases never seeing each other again. It is almost like they were never married at all.
Unfortunately, not all divorces are like this. The longer you have been married, the more you have at stake when you divorce. Those who have been married for decades have many complicated issues to navigate. There may be children, grandchildren, money, houses, cars, more complicated assets, alimony, and child support. Not to mention the many years of painful memories and the despair you feel as you try to move on from the life you have known.
Gray divorces—divorces after the age of 50—are on the rise, and there are many reasons why. People are living longer and want to live the remainder of their lives happy instead of stuck in a loveless marriage. They may no longer have anything in common with their spouses. If their spouse is developing health problems, they may want to get out of the marriage before they end up playing the role of caregiver. Also, many women are financially independent nowadays and do not need to rely on a spouse to take care of them.
Also, marriages change over time—as do people. You are probably not the same person you were when you were in your 20s or 30s. People get more mature. They develop life experience. If your spouse does not evolve with you, you may get bored and start to seek out others who share your views and interests.
Challenges With Late-in-Life Divorce
If you are thinking about divorce at a later age, know that there will be challenges, especially for women. While men have challenges as well, women tend to fare worse than men. Here are some things to consider:
- Emotional aspects. Leaving a marriage after decades together is not an easy thing to do. You were once in love with your spouse. You may have children and even grandchildren together. A divorce will affect them, as well. It is a major decision and there is a lot involved. Women often struggle with the emotional aspects of divorce. In some cases, it may take them several years to recover and move on. Men, on the other hand, tend to move on more easily.
- Depression. The emotional aspect can lead to depression, although surprisingly, men are more likely to become depressed than women. This is likely because women tend to have more emotional support. They will turn to friends and family when they are feeling sad. Women are also not shy about seeing therapists for support. Men, on the other hand, tend to bottle up their feelings. Without an outlet for their emotions, they are likely to develop depression.
- Loss of friendships. While many divorced women have a strong support system, many older women tend to lose their friends. Their friends may feel uneasy about hanging around someone their age who has just divorced. For some older people, divorce is still a stigma. Some people just feel uncomfortable. In any case, older women have a hard time making new friends, so dealing with this reality can be hard.
- Dating. The dating scene is different for older adults. Men are more likely to date after a divorce than women. However, as people get older, they date less. When a divorced person does find a romantic partner, they are more likely to live together rather than get married.
- Financial hardship. One of the biggest issues for women post-divorce is money. Divorces cost money. Assets are split in a divorce, so each party is left with less money and fewer assets. The outcome may not be so bad if the woman has been steadily employed for the majority of the marriage. However, she is in a bad position if she spent a lot of time at home raising kids or serving as a homemaker.
- New identity. Being single instead of married can be scary, but for a lot of women, it can be fun. You are no longer tied to your spouse, so untangle your life from your spouse’s and do what you want. Live somewhere new, join a club, try a new hobby, just enjoy your new life. Create your own identity.
The Positive Side
Long marriages rarely end on a whim, but when they do end, they can bring positive outcomes. Many people are relieved and feel happier and healthier. They find peace and less stress and tension. Many find new hobbies and opportunities. Some even find new love. They may reconnect with first loves from high school. Others do online dating or engage in new hobbies that allow them to meet new people who share their interests. While a divorce at an older age can be scary, it can work out in your favor and allow you another shot at happiness and love.
Seek Legal Help
A divorce can be especially difficult after a long marriage. When a couple has been married 20, 30, 40 years, or longer, it makes it harder to move on and start a new life as a single person.
Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler will be there to support you through the divorce. We have more than 30 years of experience. Schedule a consultation by calling (954) 346-6464 or filling out the online form.