The unique issues of a California divorce in older age
When a married couple divorces after 50, they may face some difficult challenges heading into an unexpected experience, but when it is right for those involved, a lawyer can help to make the transition and future brighter.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the divorce rate of people older than age 50 is twice what it was in 1990. This acceleration of divorce among those of the baby-boom generation has been the subject of much professional analysis, but whatever the reasons, for any individual facing this situation, it is important to enlist the representation of an experienced attorney who can advocate for divorce terms that will financially protect the client into their golden years.
People in this age group who are ending marriages likely entered married life at a more traditional time. People married younger and there was more societal and family expectation that people would marry into traditional roles. This means that the wife could have had the role of homemaker and stay-at-home parent, forgoing career advancement and development. By the time of a late-in-life divorce, vocational and professional development is not very likely to result in a lucrative career.
In addition, the family unit probably planned for a retirement that would encompass a shared life – one home and shared vehicles, personal property and other assets. Suddenly, the same nest egg that would have supported a couple comfortably may need to stretch to establish separate households. Wealth and standard of living often plummet for the exes as divorced individuals, according to the Times, especially for women.
Divorce later in life can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health, potentially creating the challenge of providing for home health care or even long-term residential care. However, despite financial and personal risk, some of these couples stayed together for decades even with issues of incompatibility or unhappiness. Sometimes when the kids grow up, there just is not enough left to rebuild the marital relationship.
The Times describes one husband’s feelings as he approached 70 after a long, unhappy marriage. He says that he “left only when [he] realized that [his] life was at stake – that the stress of our unhappiness together was killing me slowly but surely.”
Of course, the emotional impact is not always that serious, but anyone who takes the step toward a divorce in that age range is reaching for balance, happiness or whatever is missing or away from dysfunction. An experienced lawyer can help provide advice, guidance and advocacy to help resolve the issues in ways that will help to make the transition more positive and feasible.
The family law attorneys at Gavin & Dersch Law and Mediation in Vista and Del Mar represent people facing gray divorce – or divorce at any stage of life – throughout San Diego County.