Ending a relationship is almost always challenging, no matter your age or circumstances. But divorce can be a new beginning, too, and many people in their 50s, 60s, and even 70s are realizing they don’t have to remain in an unhappy marriage.

If you’re an older person thinking of divorce, here are some statistics regarding why more people are choosing to split up later in life and some of the issues older spouses face.Late-life divorce

Divorce Trends in the United States

Late-life divorce has become increasingly common over the past 28 years. A recent report by the Pew Research Center found that divorces of those 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2015, making this demographic responsible for as many as one out of every four divorces. Divorce rates tripled for those 65 and over, as well.

While no one factor has been determined to be responsible for this rise in divorce, there are a few possible causes that may be driving it. For instance, as people live longer, they may be discovering that there’s no need to be stuck in a marriage that is no longer providing fulfillment for the later years of their lives. Additionally, many younger people are also choosing to wait and get married later in life, which may be pushing the average age of divorce higher.

Issues that may keep couples together earlier in the marriage also tend to shift and disappear with time. For instance, many people choose to stay married when there are child care concerns, but when the children grow up and leave the home, there is less reason to stay in a marriage that is otherwise unhappy. Money concerns may also be less of an issue to older adults, who have had the time to build a secure financial base, lessening the need for shared resources.

Other Issues in Later-Life Divorce

When people get a divorce later in life, they face some other special issues. For instance, assets can be of greater concern in a late-life divorce. After a lifetime of working and saving, buying property, building up retirement funds, and making other investments, it’s likely that dividing up the marital property will be more difficult. Not only can it be challenging emotionally, but the time it takes to inventory marital property can take a while.

As a marriage continues over time, commingling of assets becomes more common, as well. While Washington is a community property state and each partner has a half-interest in all property gained after the marriage, if you have separate property from before marriage, proving that it is yours alone can be a challenge that takes time and effort.

Estate planning can also be an issue. After any major life change, it’s important to make sure your will and other documents are up-to-date and reflect your most current wishes, and a divorce definitely counts as a major life event. You may need to have a new will created that does not include your former spouse, and you may want to remove his name from any payable-on-death accounts such as life insurance policies or transfer-on-death property deeds. Your estate planning attorney can help you make sure that your plan meets your needs moving forward.

Get Legal Help for Your Gray Divorce

The obstacles in a late-life divorce may be unique, but an experienced divorce attorney can help. Hiring a legal representative to handle the issues will allow you to spend more of your time working on the most important part of the divorce process: enjoying the beginning of your new life.

At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we’ve spent decades helping a diverse range of clients make it through challenging divorce situations. We’ll be there to stand up for your legal rights and help you through the entire divorce process. To arrange a private consultation in our Bellevue office, please call us, or use our contact form to send an email now.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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