Around 50 years ago, only a little less than 3% of American people 50 and over were divorced. Nowadays, that number has risen to over 15%. That statistic has risen so much for many different reasons. Here, I will discuss these reasons and how to handle divorce if you are elderly.

Reasons for Divorce

One common reason why divorce is growing among the elderly population is that divorce is much more acceptable now than it was years ago. Every year, divorce rates go up for all generations of people. This happens because it is more common and accepted now than in the past. More people find it easier to divorce and take minimal backlash from society rather than stay in an unhappy marriage.

Another common reason why an elderly couple might get a divorce is having problems as a result of retirement. Some couples find it difficult to transition from working full time to not working at all. Suddenly having long periods of time to spend with their spouse can be difficult. This transition could lead to fighting.

Many other factors contribute to divorce in the elderly. This includes financial troubles, infidelity, loneliness, and realizing that you have grown apart.

Factors in Elderly Divorce

When divorcing as an elderly person, many factors must be taken into consideration when dividing assets and such. Some things that must be considered are:

  • Alimony: While alimony must be considered in a lot of divorces, it is normally always granted after long-term marriages.
  • Retirement: In some cases, retirement funds for the couple are cut in half at the time of the divorce.
  • Children: While children aren’t as much of a factor as they are older, you still must take them into consideration if you are divorcing as an elderly person. Sit down with your children and tell them of you and your spouse’s plans to separate and get a divorce. Since your children are older, you may go into detail more about the divorce.

Saving Your Marriage

Although first marriages have less chance of ending in divorce than subsequent marriages, divorce rates are still rising rapidly. There are some things you may do in order to prevent your marriage from ending in divorce. For one, get to know your partner constantly. Ask them how their day at work was, find activities to do after work or find common hobbies to do once your children have moved out of the house. Always create time for date nights and intimacy. It is important to keep the spark in your relationship ignited even after your children are all grown up.

Lastly, always try to keep your spouse involved in your life. Never let you and your spouse get to the point where the two of you are living separate lives. Seek help from a marriage counselor in order to either save your marriage or prevent any problems from occurring.

Dealing with the Death of Your Ex

Even though the marriage between you and your ex is over, the death of a former spouse can still affect you in many ways. If you have children with the person that has passed away, you are probably wondering if the death of your ex will affect your financial support in any way. In some cases, the answer is yes. If you received child support or spousal support from your ex spouse, your support will be greatly affected. When a former spouse passes away, any alimony the other spouse gets will be immediately terminated, unless the divorce agreement says that alimony will still be granted after the death of the payor. Child support, on the other hand, does not terminate if one spouse is to pass away.

Custody Changes

If two parents share custody of their children in divorce, the surviving spouse is normally given custody of the children automatically after the death of the other parent unless otherwise specified. Sometimes the parents of the deceased will try to establish at least some custody of their grandchildren. However, the only way for custody to be granted to the grandparents is for them to prove that the other parent is unfit to raise the children. The grandparents will need to prove that the children will be better off living with them than with their other parent.

Your Emotions

If your ex spouse passes away, you might have conflicted feelings about this event. In some cases, this death might not greatly affect you. However, you might find that you are saddened by your ex’s death, or that you even feel guilty about your relationship. The two of you once shared your life together so some sadness is to be expected on your part, but be careful not to overstep your boundaries, especially if your ex remarried. If you have children with the deceased, comfort them and remember that they have just lost one of their parents, which is a hard thing to accept. No matter how you feel about the death of your ex, you need to support your children and help them get through this experience.