North Carolina is no exception to the nationwide trend: an increasing number of couples are choosing to divorce later in life. Indeed, over the past 25 years, the rate of divorce for Americans over 50 has grown by more than 100 percent. This change has come even as other age groups have seen their divorce rates fall or remain steady. Indeed, 25 percent of all divorcing Americans are age 50 or over, while that number was less than 10 percent in 1990. While older couples who remarry are more likely to divorce, over half of all of these “gray divorces” involve people married for more than 20 years.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to people’s decision to divorce over 50. As people live longer, healthier and more active lives, they may be unwilling to live with an unhappy marriage. Indeed, they may feel freer to go their own ways after their children are out of the family home. Social stigma associated with divorce has decreased dramatically, and more women work, enjoying their own income. As a result, women may feel less pressure to remain in an unhappy marriage due to finances.
However, financial considerations can be important in a gray divorce, especially when both parties have significant assets. Spousal support agreements are common in such gray divorces, especially in long-term marriages where one spouse stayed home with the children. Retirement funds can see a major adjustment, as they are typically divided in half. People may have to make significant financial changes in order to escalate their savings.
When people are considering divorce later in life, they may have complicated financial details to disentangle in a high-asset divorce. A family law attorney might work with a divorcing spouse to negotiate a fair settlement on these matters, including alimony and property division.