Any divorce can be a messy and disruptive process. Some people will actually delay divorcing for years because they don’t want to divorce while their children are still minors. Others will only realize after their children leave home how much they have grown apart from their spouse. Even those without children can find that retiring can place a lot of strain on their marriage.
Whether you wanted to divorce for years and waited for an empty nest or have started to think about divorce as retirement exposes how unhappy your relationship is, you have a lot at risk. Gray divorces involving older adults who have stayed married for years can become more complex than divorces that occur earlier in life.
There are two issues, in particular, that can make gray divorces harder to handle.
You have a lifetime of assets to divide
Couples that divorce usually only have to split the assets they accrued during their marriage. That makes divorce simple for a couple who has only been together for three years and much more difficult for couples that have spent decades together.
Everything from your vehicles to your retirement accounts are likely marital property that you share with your spouse. Trying to arrange a property settlement after decades of marriage can be particularly difficult.
Your children may react more strongly than you expect
Waiting until your children are adults does not mean they won’t struggle with your decision to divorce. If anything, divorcing with adult children can be a messier process.
Adult children understand the complexities of intimate relationships and may realize how one parent is to blame. Even in a mutual divorce, children may take sides and may grow to resent one parent and exclude them from future family socialization.
Younger children have no choice but to work with their parents because the courts preserve their relationships through shared custody. Adult children are in a position to sever those ties and to involve themselves in a parental dispute.
When you understand the risks of divorcing later in life, you can make better choices about how you handle your divorce. Learning what triggers and complicates gray divorces can set you up for a more enjoyable retirement and an easier divorce.