It appears that there’s been an uptick in “gray divorce” – a nickname given to divorce after 50. But what’s the reason behind it?
Uptick in Gray Divorce
After being married for thirty years, a couple decides that it’s time for a divorce. Sounds odd? Well, these “gray divorces” are actually happening more often.
According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, in 2010, one of every four divorces occurred among the 50 and older population. And in 1990, the 50+ group was more than twice as likely to be divorce.
So what are the reasons behind why people are divorcing later on in life?
According to Stan Tatkin, author of Wired for Love, there’s no one big event or trigger that sets off a gray divorce. Instead, it’s a process that happens over time. “It’s like an unbreakable plate you drop repeatedly,” he says. “The relationship develops microcracks inside the structure you can’t see. Then it finally reaches a critical mass and shatters.”
Dissatisfaction can occur for any number of reasons. According to Tatkin, there are a number of prevalent themes that lead to divorce “Often one person — usually the woman — feels she’s given up too much. She may have put aside her career as she raised the children. She feels the wear and tear of the relationship because it wasn’t collaborative.”
As we all know from the middle-aged guy driving around in his new Corvette, to the middle-aged woman who is seemingly going in for yet another procedure, hitting the “middle-aged” mark can lead to feelings of wanting a “reboot.” According to Tatkin, people go through physiological and biological “brain upgrades.” These can happen at various times within a life, including at age 15 and again at 40. “Every time you experience one you want to go back [in time],” he says.
When these cravings for returning to younger years occur, a lot of times that means growing apart or seeking out new relationships.
Steve Siebold, author of 177 Mental Toughess Secrets of the World Class and a psychological performance and mental toughness coach believes boredom is a factor. “Being around the same person 24/7, depending on the relationship, can lead to boredom,” he says. Sometimes people just give up trying. “You work hard, play hard and take care of business, but you’ve stopped being the attentive, attractive spouse. You’ve allowed yourself to become complacent.”
Money issues are difficult for everyone, adding stress to any relationship. Additionally, differences in spending habits between couples and having to deal with those habits over the years can reach a breaking point. If one spouse is a big spender and the other likes to save, it can be very difficult to align the differing points of view, and maybe completely impossible. “The kids’ activities, expenses and college funds eat the family’s discretionary cash and you’re deep in debt,” says Siebold.
According to Jessica O’Reilly, author of The New Sex Bible, sexual incompatibility can become more pronounced as we age. “Hormonal changes that arise with age can cause significant shifts in sex drive. And though every couple of every age experiences differentials in desire, these can become more pronounced with age.”
Steps of the Divorce PRocess
Whatever your reason for considering your gray divorce, there are set steps you will need to take to get divorced. Hence, we bring you a “how-to” for getting divorced.
Your Divorce, Specifically
The necessary steps for obtaining your divorce will be dependent on the particulars of your relationship. The dissolution of a marriage in which the parties have been married for a short period of time, have no children, and little property or debts will most likely be less involved than a divorce where the couple has been married for a long period of time, shares minor children, or where there is significant property or debt to be divided. The question of if both parties are seeking the divorce will also determine the ease at which they are granted that divorce. A partner not wanting the divorce might respond in a way that allows them to prolong the process. If a couple can both agree to the divorce the process can be much smoother and quicker. This also applies to the agreement process because if a couple is bogged down with fighting and disagreements over everything, the process will be much slower.
1. Petition for Divorce
To start the divorce process one of the spouses must file a petition. Even if both spouses are in agreement, one of them will have to file a petition with the court asking for the divorce. This petition states the grounds for the divorce. These vary from state to state. California is a no-fault state, meaning no fault is placed on either party regardless of infidelity, etc… All jurisdictions allow for some type of no-fault grounds such as “irreconcilable differences.” Some states will consider fault grounds for divorce, such as adultery or abandonment. Your attorney will be able to advise you on if fault grounds are available in your state, and if so, whether or not it makes sense to file for divorce on fault grounds.
2. Temporary Orders for Support and Custody
If one spouse is seeking financial support or custody of children, that spouse will need to ask the court for temporary orders for support and custody. A temporary order is usually granted within a few days of the initial petition. It remains in effect until the full divorce court hearing. If the party seeking the temporary order is the same party who is filing the petition, it’s advised that they file both the divorce petition and the temporary order at the same time. If you are not the party that filed the divorce petition but will be looking for temporary support or child support, it’s advised that you file your request for the temporary order as soon as possible.
3. Proof of Service and Response
When a party files for divorce they also need to file for a proof of service of process. This document proves that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. This can be done through a process server, or by a lawyer. There are numerous ways to do this and you’ll want to consult a lawyer for advice on how to do this. If the parties mutually agree on the divorce, it is best for the party who files the complaint to arrange for service of process to the other party’s attorney.
Once the party receives the service of process they will need to file a response to the petition. In states where fault grounds can be filed and the responding party wants to dispute those grounds, he or she needs to address it in the response. They are able to dispute the facts alleged in the grounds for divorce. Additionally, if the party disagrees with property division, support, custody, or any other issue, this should be set out in the response.
When two divorcing spouses disagree on issues they must come to an agreement that settles their differences. Often times this is done through mediation. During this process every aspect of a marriage is resolved: child custody and visitation, child support, property division and any spousal support. Working with a mediation specialist can help you receive the settlement you are seeking when it comes to dissolving your marriage. It’s within your best interest to try and resolve all these issues outside of court. This will cut down on legal fees, time spent arguing, and any headaches that can come with trying to go back and forth to find an agreeable settlement. Any issues left undecided during the mediation process will have to be decided at a trial.
5. Order of Dissolution
Once everything is decided upon an order of dissolution is set forth. This document spells out how the property and debts are to be divided, what child custody and visitation schedule is, what support payments (spousal and child) need to be paid, and any other issues. If the parties are able to negotiate their own resolution to all of the issues, their lawyers will draft the order of dissolution and submit it to the court. If the Order of Dissolution complies with legal requirements and both parties entered into it knowingly and willingly and can attest to it, then the judge approves it. This means the divorce is finalized. If these issues cannot be resolved then a couple will have to go through divorce court and have a judge decide on the aspects of the marriage dissolution. Once that is decided an Order of Dissolution is the end result of the trial.
6. Starting Life as “Single”
One of the hardest steps of a divorce is the “moving on” step. Once all the dust is cleared, all the paperwork signed, you now find yourself entering the “single” box on your important forms. Rather than view this in sadness, there are some ways to look at your new life with hope and excitement. It’s up to you how you will tackle each day.
Working With a Divorce Advocate
If you are facing a divorce, you should work with an attorney that will take a vested interest in your specific situation and advise you on what you might face in a divorce regarding property division, child support and custody, and alimony. They will be able to advise you on your options. An attorney will provide support and guidance as you work towards ending your marriage.
For advice on divorce, you need the expert law firm of Law Offices of Korol and Velen, Certified Family Law Specialists.