Beware of empty nesters

You and your spouse have worked hard to support your family and raise your children. You have them in high school and now the last one has left home and is in school, working somewhere or maybe married. It’s finally over and now it’s time for you and your spouse to relax and start enjoying just being the two of you. Chance at marital happiness once more? Whoops, not so fast. You may be heading to the big “D” (divorce) instead.

According to the New York Times, the divorce rate for couples age 50 and older has doubled in more than half a century. According to the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, 15.4% of couples age 50 and older were divorced, 2.1% were separated, and 13.5% were widowed.

What are some of the factors that lead to the death of a marriage? Based on my own observations as a practicing divorce lawyer, it all comes down to a couple of things. First, so much energy was focused on their children that they did nothing to keep their relationship strong. They separated. Strive to keep your marriage strong. Take trips together without your children, even when they are young. Trust me, they will survive. Second, many baby boomers are on their second or third marriage. IF they are healthy and active and the relationship has become stale or onerous, there is a greater chance that the person will divorce again. Third, be careful with retirement. Being together all the time, when you haven’t been together in the past, can be stressful. Find some hobbies that each of you can do on your own, as my mom would say, “let there be room in your togetherness.” However, be sure to schedule time together as well and look for mutual interest.

Generally, there are greater implications when one is older and divorces. These implications can put additional pressure on the children and the family. Kids and other family members probably (hopefully) like the two of you. They won’t know how to treat you now that you’re not a couple. The stress on finances and the division of assets such as investments, social security, retirement accounts and tax implications have greater importance and ramifications as an older couple. Generally speaking, you have acquired more.

Hopefully, you will have a wonderful marriage now that the children are gone. It really is a time to reconnect and enjoy each other. No more pressures of parenting. More disposable income, right? You’re not paying for school, braces, dancing, and the list goes on and on. However, if your marriage is one of the statistics, you should seek competent legal representation to ensure that you get what you deserve.

An experienced divorce lawyer will work closely with you to understand your needs, review your rights and options, consider creative alternatives, and prepare a sound legal strategy for your divorce and family law case.

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