Later in life divorces have been an upward trend for close to a decade even as divorce among younger age groups has flattened out. Called the “Gray Divorce Revolution,” a research study of the same name examined the divorce rates of Americans over age 50, and it identified the, “sociodemographic correlates,” of divorce for older adults. The study looked at changes in the divorce rate over time and discovered that the divorce rate among adults age 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010. About one in four divorces in 2010 occurred among people over age 50.
Why gray divorce?
A gray divorce involves couples who were married for 30 years or more. The term is also used to describe the wave of divorce among those of the Baby Boomer generation, regardless of how long they were married. If a couple has managed to stay together for thirty or forty years, why split just as they are approaching or are amid their golden years? Here are a few speculations about what might be fueling the trend of later in life divorce:
- “Empty Nest” syndrome. The kids have gone off to college or they have all grown up, moved out and are living their own lives. Suddenly, without the common goal of raising and providing for children, couples sometimes lose their connection.
- Changing lifestyle preferences. One spouse wants to relax and watch daytime television while the other wants to spend their retirement traveling the world and crossing things off their bucket list.
- One spouse discovers that it is never too late to choose happiness. Maybe one or both spouses have not been happy for a long time. They realize one day that life is too short to be in a marriage that is not fulfilling.
- Sexual incompatibility. Sexual appetites can change over time, and spouses who feel like their needs are not being met look for a solution to the situation in divorce.
- Financial incompatibility. One spouse is a big spender and the other prefers a more frugal lifestyle. Maybe one spouse has committed financial infidelities, which the other spouse discovered.
Why is mediation good for gray divorces?
Mediation is a smart option for couples who are parting ways later in life because it is the most cost-effective option. If the parties are retired or nearing retirement age, they do not have the time to recover financially after paying for a litigated divorce, which depending on the complexity of the divorce, can range from $50,000 to $200,000. There are additional benefits as well:
- Mediation saves time. Older people who are seeking a divorce may not wish to waste more than a year of their lives in the process of getting a divorce. Divorce mediation allows you to go through your finances and plan for your future in a set time, after which you can give this plan to your lawyer, and then proceed.
- Mediation is confidential. You do not have to worry about the intimate details of your life becoming public record when you go through mediation.
- Your social life stays intact. Parties who have been married for a long time have their lives in common; they share friends and family, and are not as likely to totally walk away from either. Because of the nature of mediation, parties are less likely to push those family members and friends to take sides.
- It is a more amicable parting. Often, couples who have been married for a long time will remain friends if they avoid a contentious divorce. As they get older, they may find they provide support for each other. It also makes family occasions, like holidays and birthdays, less stressful for everyone, including their adult children.
- Both parties are in control. Because we work with both parties, you remain in control of the mediation process until its completion, rather than letting a judge decide how your divorce will impact your future. Everything is “on the table” for both parties from the start, and you know exactly what you are agreeing to, because you worked through it together.
- It eliminates conflict. The process of mediation helps both parties learn how to resolve differences without resorting to contentious conflict. Mediation can give both parties the tools for resolving future differences, and it can help preserve the relationship so that both parties can relate to one another in a civil, peaceful manner going forward.
At Divorce Mediation Associates, a divorce mediator helps couples of any age facilitate a safe, productive, and collaborative environment in which to conduct your divorce negotiations. You can choose whether you want to conduct mediation with or without the support of your lawyer. You may call to get more information at 703-665-7592, or use our contact form.