With advances in extending health and vitality on into later years, older adults find themselves with more options in terms of their lifestyle. While this has numerous benefits, one adverse impact seems to be an increasing divorce rate. Older couples who may have been married for decades are now considering divorce as an option in greater numbers. While a marital breakup could open the door for positive life changes, it can also pose some significant challenges.
Reasons Behind the Trend on ‘Grey’ Divorce
Divorce among older adult couples has now become more common. As a reault, there is a specific term to describe it — grey divorce. According to a February 2019 Forbes report, while the overall divorce rate in the United States has declined over the past several decades, the number of couples over the age of 50 seeking a divorce has gradually increased. Some of the more common reasons couples in this age bracket give for seeking a divorce include:
- Financial Issues: This is a common cause of marital problems among couples of all ages, but older adults often face specific issues related to money. One of the parties may have been the primary breadwinner over the years, fostering resentment in both spouses. Often there are disagreements in attitudes about money or how it is handled. Particularly in light of rapidly approaching retirement years.
- Growing Apart: Forbes states that one of the most common reasons for older couples getting divorced is that they simply ‘grew apart’ over the years. Lack of communication may be a problem. Or one of the spouses may want to enjoy new activities and pursuits in which the other has little interest.
- Children Have Grown: Not wanting to put children through the upheaval of a divorce is one of the main reasons that otherwise unhappy couples remain together. Once the couple gets older and children have grown, divorce becomes a more feasible option.
- Sexual Issues: Older adults now have the means to enjoy a more satisfying and active sex life. Marital problems can arise if there are major differences in sex drive or if one of the spouses has an affair.
Common Issues in Older Adult Divorces
The issues older couples face in divorce proceedings are often more complex. Three main areas that impact these cases include:
- Marital Property Division: Under New Jersey divorce laws, any marital property acquired, earned, or otherwise accumulated during a marriage is to be divided on an equitable basis. For a couple who are married for decades, this involves sifting through vast amounts of personal property. Along with real estate and assets in financial accounts.
- Alimony: Under Section 2A:34-23 of the New Jersey Statutes, a judge may older alimony in cases where it is warranted. This often occurs when one party makes significantly more than the other. Or in cases in which one of the spouses sacrificed his or her own career or education for the sake of the marriage.
- Retirement Benefits: One of the biggest issues in a grey divorce is the impact it can have on both spouse’s retirement plans. Retirement accounts and pension benefits are subject to equitable division in divorce proceedings. However, you will need to decide how to take distributions in order to avoid tax penalties.
Reach Out To Middlesex County Divorce Attorney
Middlesex County Divorce Attorney Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we provide the trusted legal guidance you need to protect your rights when going through a divorce. To request a confidential consultation to discuss your case, reach out and contact our Milltown divorce attorney today.