You may have heard of the growing demographic trend of “gray divorce” among older Americans. According to a recent NPR article, Americans over the age of 50 have twice the chance of getting divorced as those in the same age group did 20 years ago. Time states that 1 in 4 couples over 50 are divorcing, so if you’re an empty nester considering divorce, you’re far from alone.
While going through a divorce at any age can be a challenging and emotional process, some experts are now saying that ending a marriage in your 50s can actually be easier than at other points in life. With the right attitude and the right legal help, getting divorced in your 50s could actually leave you feeling liberated.
One of the major reasons a divorce at age 50 or above can be less stressful than divorce at a younger age is children. For most couples, by age 50, their children are grown and have become independent. While even adult children can be affected by divorce, there generally are not concerns about child custody and uprooting a young child’s sense of stability when an older couple considers divorce. Furthermore, adult children can be a great source of emotional support during a divorce – although parents should be cautious about burdening adult children with matters that would be better discussed with a lawyer or therapist.
Beyond their children, those over 50 likely have a more widely available support network than they would have had earlier in life. If you are over 50, you probably have friends or relatives who have gotten divorced and can share their experiences (although any divorce advice you received from your social groups should be confined to personal matters, as an experienced family law attorney is the only one qualified to give accurate advice on legal matters). Friends and family members whose children have grown up also likely have more time and energy to devote to you than they may have had when they had young children.
Finally, there is the matter of who you are and where you are at in life. It can be that you are more easily able to adapt to financial independence later in life, but it is not just about money. It is also about being comfortable in your own skin, knowing who you are and being prepared to embrace a new chapter in life. These qualities take time and maturity to develop – things you probably did not have in spades during your 20s.
There is no “right age” for divorce. But if you have reached a certain level of maturity, you may have advantages over younger individuals who are divorcing. If you are considering divorce, talk to a family law attorney to get advice on how to end things the right way, leaving you with the resources you will need to move on and make the next stage in your life a success.