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Divorce at an older age can be challenging

When you got married 25, 30 or more years ago, you no doubt were expecting your relationship to last a lifetime. Through the years, like many Maryland couples, you and your spouse may have expanded your family size, purchased your own home or, perhaps, even started a business together. When problems began to surface in your relationship, you did your best to rise above them and move on in life.

Once your children were much older, you might have decided that, rather than stay in an unhappy relationship, you'd rather file for divorce. Society used to frown upon such ideas long ago, but times have changed; in fact, the divorce rate among people age 50 and over has nearly doubled in the past 20 years. Starting a single lifestyle after decades of marriage is definitely not without its challenges.

Issues to keep in mind

While no two marriages are exactly the same, you may relate to experiences of your friends or extended family members, even co-workers, who have divorced late in life. The following list includes issues that may apply to your situation that you'll want to keep in mind before finalizing a settlement:

  • Even if you happen to be the one who filed the petition for divorce, it doesn't necessarily mean you will not experience intense moments of sadness. Gray divorce, which refers to divorces that occur at age 50 or beyond, is often emotionally traumatic because spouses have essentially spent most of their adult lives together, and change is difficult.
  • There are usually financial implications associated with gray divorce. You might be especially concerned about retirement benefits or Social Security issues.
  • Informing your children of your plans for divorce might feel awkward. Although they're no longer young children, they might still react with feelings of sadness, confusion or even anger.
  • Property division is a priority topic in most late-life divorces. Maryland operates under equitable property guidelines, which means the court will determine a fair split of all marital assets and liabilities, which will not necessarily be 50/50.

Many older spouses say they simply drifted apart from their partners, no longer having shared interests or the desire to try to work out their differences. Maybe you feel somewhat relieved that you can leave the past behind and look forward to new experiences in the future. The more you learn about the various legal options that are available to help you accomplish your goals, the easier your transition to a new lifestyle might be.

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