According to recent United States Census statistics, for the first time in the nation’s history, more Americans over the age of 50 are divorced than are widowed. Coined by sociologists as “gray divorces,” the trend appears to be increasing as the baby boomer generation lives longer. Despite divorce rates stabilizing nationwide in other age groups, the over-50 divorce rate has doubled since 1990. Researchers attribute the trend to the growing acceptance of divorce in society and women’s increased economic independence.
Unique issues posed by divorce after 50
Divorce, or “dissolution of marriage,” after 50 poses many of the same challenges as widowhood, such as economic strain, reliance on children, or occasionally institutional support from other sources. While issues such as child custody, time-sharing arrangements or child support are typically less relevant, there is an increased emphasis placed on division of property and assets.
Understanding the marriage dissolution process
Florida law outlines a distinct process for the dissolution of a marriage, including:
- Submitting a petition to the circuit court in either spouse’s county of residence or the couple’s last shared residence
- Informing the other spouse of the filing of the petition through “service”
- Filing of an answer and/or counter-petition by the receiving spouse
- Submission of financial documents and affidavits by both sides
- Attempt to reach agreement on division of property and assets
- Use of mediation that may be court-ordered or optional
- Presentation of proposed settlement to the court
- Resort to trial if the parties are unable to reach an agreement
Dissolving a marriage if you are over the age of 50 poses unique concerns regarding estate planning and division of assets and liabilities, as spouses prepare for and enter retirement. A seasoned divorce attorney can be your guide throughout the “gray divorce” process.