Deciding to get divorced several decades into a marriage can feel isolating, as though you are the only one experiencing this. In reality, “gray divorce,” which refers to couples who separate in their 50s, is far more common than you might think. Studies reveal that divorce rates among 55 and older couples, who have been in long duration marriages, have more than doubled over the past thirty years.
This trend may be due to the fact that middle-aged folks are recognizing that they still have many good years ahead of them, and there’s no reason to stay in an unhappy marriage. Of course, the process is more complex than divorcing after a short marriage. There are numerous things to consider like the personal challenge of being single again, figuring out where to live, handling issues that come with older children, and how to untangle your finances after so many years.
The most common issues when getting a divorce after 25 years of marriage are children and finances. First and foremost, don’t be surprised if the kids are not happy with your decision and very vocal about their feelings. Remember that the two of you together is all they have ever known. Be patient and open to listening to their thoughts and concerns. Work with your children and your spouse to come up with a plan for custody and visitation that considers the age of your kids and their needs, which are much different than toddlers or grade school age kids.
Working out a fair and equitable way to separate your finances will take time and patience. Couples in their late 40s or 50s typically have retirement funds, property and often have one or more children in college or approaching college. Concerns are quite different than that of a younger couple with time in front of them to rebuild.
All of your assets and debts will be disclosed including your house, retirement, investments, credit card debts, and loans. California laws state that all community assets and debts will be divided equally, unless otherwise agreed upon. It sounds simple, but with equity in your home, long term growth of investments and possible debt acquired, there is much to be evaluated before decisions are made. Complex issues often come into play that require consulting with an attorney to gain a better understanding of your options and to put a plan into place.
Consulting with an attorney who cares
Finding an attorney that understands the challenges you face at this stage in your life is crucial. Although CA is a community property state that awards a 50/50 split of assets and debts, there are many options and legal issues for handling these issues. An experienced attorney has business relationships with accounting experts, financial advisors and others that can help round out your team. While it’s true that ending your marriage after 25 years comes with its share of complications, it can also represent a brand-new opportunity to reshape your future.
Some ask if there is an advantage to being the first to file for divorce. While there are many strategies at play at the beginning of a divorce the petitioner vs. respondent (read the article here) is typically not a crucial decision giving either party major advantages.
Looking for long duration divorce attorneys? At Buncher Family Law, we have represented clients with every type and length of marriage you can imagine. With our extensive experience and depth of understanding rarely seen in a law firm, we will walk with you to the other side.