Divorce is never easy, no matter how old you are. But when you’re over fifty, there are unique challenges — emotionally, socially, and financially. Your marriage is likely to have been of longer duration than that of a younger person who is divorcing; it’s been a significant part of your adult life. At the same time, your life isn’t over. You likely have decades ahead of you, and you want to live them to the fullest. Let’s take a look at some of the unique dynamics of divorce after fifty, and how to not only survive, but thrive afterward.
Why Divorce Now?
Many couples marry in their twenties and spend the next two or three decades putting their energy into building a career and a family. As long as there’s nothing terribly wrong in the marriage, when you’re so busy and occupied, it can be easy to ignore the fact that there’s nothing really right, either. Some people “wake up” in their fifties when their children are grown and their careers established, look around, and ask, “Is this all there is?” To them, divorce may seem like an exhilarating, if terrifying, second chance to have the life they want. Others are confronted with an unwanted divorce when their spouse decides that he or she is no longer willing to be married. Whether divorce was your decision, your spouse’s, or a mutual choice, there are some things you should think about.
Surviving Financial Changes After Divorce
Despite the oft-repeated refrain that men’s standard of living goes up after divorce while women’s goes down, in reality, divorce poses financial challenges for both. This makes sense: total household income goes down, and two are no longer living (nearly) as cheaply as one. If you rely on health insurance provided by your spouse’s job, or were counting on your spouse’s retirement nest egg, you may find yourself facing a very different financial future than you expected.
If you were a stay-at-home parent who lost years in the workplace in order to care for your family, you may have lost income, the opportunity for career advancement, and experience that would allow you to support yourself (or to do so at a higher level) after divorce. It’s essential to work with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney to make sure that you fully understand your financial needs after divorce, and that they’re met.
Surviving Emotional and Social Changes After Divorce
Divorce after fifty, also known as “gray divorce,” offers certain advantages: if your kids are grown, for instance, you won’t need to worry about custody issues, child support, or parenting time. That said, gray divorce offers its own unique challenges. Over time, many of your friendships may have been with other couples, and it is often hard to maintain those social connections after divorce. Then there is the whole challenge of dating, when you haven’t been on a date in decades! Online divorce support groups and dating sites specifically for people over 50 can help you find the connection you need, and when you’re ready, face-to-face support and companionship.
The reality is, you are in good company. The divorce rate among people over 50 has doubled since 1990, and there are now more divorced people in this category than widowed ones. Even so, after having been married for decades, divorce can be bewildering. A good clearinghouse of information is your divorce lawyer. While you may have never been through divorce before, he or she has been through dozens, perhaps hundreds, and can point you in the direction of the resources you may not even realize yet that you’ll need.
If you are over fifty and facing divorce, talk to an experienced Oakland County divorce attorney to learn more about what you can expect and what you’ll need from the process. Attorney Jim Hubbert has handled many Michigan divorces and is committed to helping clients find their new beginnings in divorce.