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The difficulties of divorcing later in life

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce in the state of Maryland is nearly always a frustrating and scary ordeal for both parties. However, certain factors can make the already onerous process even more complicated and bewildering. That is definitely the case if the marriage has been a long one and the couple is older. Divorcing later in life can be difficult.

Gray divorce and its causes

Divorce that happens later in life for a couple is sometimes referred to as “gray divorce.” This is typically the case after the age of 50. While someone may think that a couple together for that long will hang in there with one another, certain factors can lead to a breakup. This can include:

  • Changing cultural attitudes towards divorce
  • Longer life expectancy
  • Children having long left the home
  • Disagreements over assets and finances
  • Older people now more likely to remarry
  • Issues with adjusting to retirement

While this list is in no way exhaustive, the more permissive attitude towards divorce may explain most of the rising levels of gray divorce. Couples today that may have stayed together for social reasons in the past no longer see the need to do so today.

The difficulties of gray divorce

There may be specific issues that affect an older divorcing couple that do not apply to younger couples. This can add some complexity to the family law issues involved. This can include factors like:

  • Determining rights to pension plans
  • Splitting retirement accounts
  • Incurring significant debt
  • Significant asset division
  • Difficulty with estate planning
  • Figuring out what to do with insurance plans
  • Determining healthcare costs
  • Settling matters concerning business ownership
  • Dividing stocks, bonds and other investments

While some of these concern younger couples as well, they are more important for older couples in many cases. For example, older people tend to have higher healthcare costs. In that case, the cost of that healthcare may become a significant factor in how divorce law is used to reach a settlement or judgment.

Overall, the ramifications of a divorce for older people can be quite serious. There is often a lot more at stake in regards to things like assets, income and the health needs of each divorcee. While divorce may be needed, it shouldn’t be a hasty decision that one makes.