Monday, July 7, 2014

Divorcing After 50

Although this topic is not unusual, it now presents an interesting perspective. The "silver" divorce is gaining in popularity and beginning to concern professionals from financial planners to sociologists to the federal government. As of 2010, the silver divorce has more than doubled from 1 in 10 divorces to 1 in 4 divorces, according to U.S. Census data by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. Why the worry? Well, as this aging group of baby boomers suddenly becomes more single, there is a real possibility of an increase in poverty rates for these singles compared to those whom remain married.  Single individuals are less able to take advantage of the economic benefits of marriage. For instance, there are no built-in caregivers or a second source of income. Additionally, policy experts are concerned about the affect on Social Security, Medicare and other federal programs. 
Why are silver divorces doubling in numbers? Many researchers believe this increase stems from multiple factors. One major factor being the disappearance of the stigma of divorcing. A cultural shift back in the 1970's has progressively lessened the negativity surrounding divorce. Long term marriages tend to fall apart once the children are grown. Life expectancy is growing and people are no longer willing to remain in mediocre marriages when a large portion of their life is still ahead of them.
Some words of advice for those experiencing the beginnings of a silver divorce. Don't litigate against a spouse whom you've just shared 20, 30 or 40 years with.  These divorces may be tense, but can definitely remain amicable. Mediating with a Supreme Court certified family mediator is the least stressful and emotional way to separate. Mediators can also assist the individuals with finding other post-divorce professionals to help guide the parties through the next phase of their life.  After a long term marriage, one or both of the parties will benefit from the help of a financial planner, mental health therapist, and/or divorce coach. Most importantly, family mediation won't nearly break the bank for a divorcing couple as a litigious divorce would.
(Source - Miami Herald, Tropical Life Section, "Suddenly Single" by Ana Veciana-Suarez dated April 19, 2014)

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