Divorcing Late in Life? You're Not Alone

The longer a couple is married the more complicated a divorce settlement may become. It would stand to reason that couples married for multiple decades would choose to stay together, but divorce statistics say otherwise. More long-time married couples are splitting up than ever before.

Social and media analysts are searching for reasons that couples part after spending all or much of their adult lives together. One clinical psychologist acknowledged that many of the older couples in his practice were headed toward divorce. He noted that some clients felt a need to break free of marriage as retirement approached while they still enjoyed robust health.

The relationship therapist said older couples often want to avoid the stereotypes of aging. Medical science has extended the human life span. Older people are healthier longer. Some are ready for change, including divorce.

Divorce after a certain numbers of married years was once a rare event. Today, divorce lawyers see couples who have been together for 20, 30 or more years calling quits on their marriage.

Statistics from 2010 support the upswing in long-term, failed marriages that psychologists and attorneys see. The data shows that one in four couples, married at least 20 years, divorce. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that less than half of those who married in the mid and late 1970s were still married after 25 years.

When couples who have been together a long time do divorce, finances are often deeply interwoven. Accumulated assets like pensions, insurances or properties are usually much more valuable and harder to split than for couples who divorce at a younger age.

Divorcing at an older age, from a long-term marriage, may bring a renewed feeling of freedom. Legal and money advisors add that the emotional break from marriage is frequently accompanied by a not-so-attractive, financial fresh start.

An older couple who physically splits must consider big-ticket housing and transportation needs as separate individuals. Medical care and the expense of a solo retirement lifestyle are among long-range considerations for couples divorcing after decades.

Source: fox23news.com, "Divorce after decades," Julie Tremmel, Feb. 17, 2012