When you think back to your wedding day in South Dakota, it might seem like a lifetime ago. Perhaps it’s been several decades since that day, and you have passed the years by with raising a family, maybe starting a business or working, and basically navigating the ups and downs of marriage as so many couples do. If your relationship with your spouse has been rocky and you’ve decided to file for divorce, you can count yourself among many others in the over-50 age group who have made similar decisions.
The term “gray divorce” refers to people who are 50 and older who decide that they’d rather move on in life without their spouse than stay in an unhappy marriage. In fact, the rate of divorce for older people has more than doubled in the past couple of decades.
Key factors that often lead to a gray divorce
After sharing your life with the same spouse for 25, 30, 40 or more years, you’ve no doubt encountered all sorts of issues that needed to be resolved. Some negative events may be long-forgotten by now. Others may have led to your decision to file for divorce. The following list includes issues that are often relevant to older people whose marriages end in divorce:
- They were unhappy for years but hesitated to file for divorce because there was a stigma attached to it, and now there’s not.
- Many spouses stay together in an unhappy marriage for the sake of their kids but decide to divorce after their children are grown and on their own.
- Older women are typically more financially independent nowadays than they might have been in their early 20s.
- Some spouses simply decide that they want to pursue personal happiness in life after so many years of putting their own needs and desires on a backburner.
- Many older couples have drifted apart in their marriages after decades of living together.
Your life expectancy is much higher now than it would have been for your peers long ago. Many marriage analysts say that living longer isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to marriage longevity because, for some spouses, they simply grow tired of one another.
Filing for divorce later in life has unique implications
Filing for divorce in your late 50s, 60s or beyond often means you’ll have to address issues that would not necessarily be relevant to a younger couple. For instance, a primary financial issue in a gray divorce is often retirement benefits. You might also have to resolve complex tax issues or estate planning issues.
It’s important to understand South Dakota laws regarding divorce before heading to court. The more you understand ahead of time, especially regarding property division guidelines, the better able to make informed decisions you’ll be, and the better able to protect your financial interests you might be, as well.