Your last child has left the nest. After years of raising a family with your spouse, you find yourself ready to restart your life – on your own. The Empty Nest Divorce, also known as the Gray Divorce, is affecting a large portion of the population. In the past 25 years, divorce among adults age 50 and over has roughly doubled. If you find yourself on the brink of divorce after decades together, you may think the courtroom or mediation room battles will be easier if child support isn’t an issue. Don’t be mistaken – the Empty Nest Divorce comes with its own unique challenges.
Reasons for an Empty Nest Divorce
Plenty of couples say they have grown apart, lost sight of each other and their relationship while raising children. But there are many reasons late-in-life divorces can occur, such as:
- Longevity – People are living longer and, knowing they have a good two or three decades still ahead of them, prefer not to live in an unsatisfying marriage.
- Health – Whether it’s menopause or medication that stalls a person’s libido, health problems of any sort can put a strain on a marriage.
- Social drought – If you relied on the activities of your child to put you in contact with other adults, now that your child has left the nest you may find your social calendar quite empty. Cultivating a new peer group can take precedence over fortifying a marriage.
- Retirement – Do you and your spouse have completely different ideas about life after retirement, or even when to retire? Incompatibility in this department can tank a long-term marriage.
- Ghosts – When your house is empty and you and your spouse have nothing to concentrate on but each other, the old problems you brushed aside to put the kids first could come raging back. And you may not have the desire or communication skills to resolve the issues. When contempt and resentment are in charge of your emotions, your marriage can disintegrate quickly.
Matters to Consider in a Gray Divorce
When you’ve been an established married couple for a long time, your assets and debts may be quite comingled. If one-half of the couple didn’t work but stayed home to raise the children, things can get even trickier.
Here are some matters to consider:
- Who’s paying for college? Perhaps your kids are just barely out of the nest and they’re still pursuing a higher education. If you and your ex jointly paid for college before the divorce, it needs to be decided during your divorce who will contribute what funds to continue paying for your child’s education.
- When will you see your kids? Your children may be too old for child custody, child support, or parenting time to be an issue in your divorce. However, don’t exclude child matters completely. If your divorce is particularly bitter, you may not want to cross paths with your ex. Make a point to discuss who will be at what holiday or birthday celebration, or when you will each see the kids or grandkids.
- How does divorce affect retirement? From Social Security to pensions to 401(k)s, there are some assets that you may be entitled to and other assets that you may have to fight for in your divorce. Estate planning docs will need to be changed, real estate investments will be on the table, and long-term care insurance will be an issue. Whatever the two of you planned to do together after retirement in your golden years will be divvied up in your divorce.
Divorce is a deep issue, whether you’ve been married for one year or decades. If you are ready to talk about splitting from your longtime spouse, contact an experienced Michigan divorce attorney at Femminineo Attorneys in Mt. Clemens, MI, to schedule your no-cost initial interview.