According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, divorce in the U.S. is declining overall — with one glaring exception: the divorce rate for those 50 years and older has doubled in the past 20 years. Experts have dubbed the trend “grey divorce,” and see it in keeping with other ways that the Baby Boomer generation has redefined aging. Those considering divorce later in life should be aware of some of the ways that divorce will differ from younger couples.
Many Baby Boomers’ children are already living on their own, so when Baby Boomers divorce, they need not consider issues such as custody, parenting time and child support. If they do still have children living with them, the children are usually teenagers and have a great deal of input in their living arrangements and how much time they spend with each parent.
What Baby Boomers often underestimate is the emotional impact that divorce will have on their adult children. Even though the adult children no longer live with their parents, they still feel the same sense of loss, hurt or betrayal with which younger children of divorce contend.
Baby Boomers are often in a better financial position to divorce than younger couples. They have been in the workforce longer and have had more time to amass savings and plan for retirement.
However, this also means that they have more assets to fight about regarding property division and spousal support. Dividing the assets fairly becomes even more of a pressing issue for those divorcing later in life, since they realize what they take from the divorce needs to see them through retirement.
Experts suggest those who have been out of the workforce raising children negotiate a higher portion of the property settlement or a significant spousal support award to reflect the reduced earning power they have from their years not working. It is wise to advocate for a residence, retirement accounts and non-retirement investment accounts in addition to spousal support to help ensure financial security.
Those divorcing later in life often say they simply grew apart from their spouses. However, many also cite infidelity as a reason for the split, and the betrayal that comes with finding an unfaithful spouse after a marriage of such lasting duration can be particularly profound.
Divorce is never easy, no matter what age a person decides to do it. If you are considering divorce, talk to an experienced lawyer to learn about your options.