News this summer that the 40-year marriage of Al and Tipper Gore is coming to an end underscores a recent trend in American matrimony: couples who have made it through decades of family rearing and career building are parting ways in unprecedented numbers. American baby boomers are splitting up at three times the rate of their Greatest Generation parents. And statistics reveal that women in this demographic are far more motivated to dissolve their unions than their husbands.
A recent survey of divorce professionals in the United States and Canada conducted by the Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) reveals that the most common reason for divorces between spouses over age 50 is that they no longer share common interests. Other studies show that wives are significantly more discontented than their life partners: a frequently cited 2004 AARP study, based on interviews with 1147 respondents between ages 40 and 79, found that two of three divorces in this age range were initiated by the wives.
Longer Lives, Greater Independence, Personal Fulfillment
The reasons behind this discontent are not difficult to imagine. The baby-boom generation has enjoyed the greatest prosperity of any in human history. After the fundamental purposes of marriage have been fulfilled, many women are pursuing their own destinies beyond the sacrifices they have made to home, husband and children. These women often have the financial independence and confidence to pursue what they may see as greater happiness on their own or with someone else.
Divorcing spouses in this category are much less likely to have concerns common in dissolutions between younger couples, namely support, child custody matters and the restraints that ongoing parenting obligations place on relocation.
However, these spouses will have to consider how to equitably divide a marital estate built through decades of mutual effort. Adults who separate later in life may have the wisdom to recognize the benefits of a collaborative divorce, which focuses on structured, cooperative negotiation, over protracted public legal disputes and court-dictated results.
Complex Property Division Requires Experienced Counsel
An older spouse seeking divorce after 10, 20 or 30 years of building a secure home for a family or supporting a career can learn a great deal about the legal options in a consultation with a family law attorney. The financial details are critical, and obtaining a fair division of pensions, business interests, real-estate holdings and other complex assets takes a diligent advocate and legal insights that can only be gained through experience. By enlisting the services of a trusted divorce lawyer early on, you can confidently decide upon a legal strategy to lay a secure foundation for the future.