According to a recent article on CNN.com, the divorce rate has more than doubled for couples over the age of 50, debunking the perception that divorce is a phenomenon reserved for young people. Traditional notions dictate that most marriages dissolve closer to their inception, reflecting that some young couples rush into marriage before they are ready, or feel pressure to marry after a child comes into the picture.
In 1990, only about 10% of all divorces were among those over the age of 50. Today, the figure is nearly one in four. Studies were inconclusive about the actual reasons for the increase, but many speculate that the higher figures are due in part to longer life expectancies, the proliferation of internet dating sites, and changing attitudes about the sanctity of marriage. Older people, it seems, no longer feel like they have to be “stuck” with the same person for their whole life. It is no longer taboo for an older couple to divorce, nor are the people who separated likely to remain alone for long if they don’t want to. There is a far greater pool of single, older people who are in similar situations.
Although these are nationwide figures, Maryland family law attorneys have observed similar local increases in their clients over the age of 50. With these increases, Maryland family lawyers face a particular set of challenges.
For one, older couples have typically been married for a longer period of time. During that time, an older married couple is likely to have accumulated more marital property than a younger married couple. A common misconception is that marital property is limited to the marital home, automobiles, and other tangible possessions. In reality, marital property encompasses bank accounts, investments, pensions, and other intangible assets. An older couple is likely to have acquired more of these intangible examples of marital property over their lifetime in addition to the physical property they have accumulated. The challenge for a Maryland divorce attorney is getting an accurate account of all these assets because the sheer volume and value of the assets are sure to be a greater challenge than if the attorney was filing a divorce for a younger person.
Another concern for older couples who split is the possibility of failing health among one or both of the spouses. Traditionally, marriage ensures that an ailing spouse will be taken care of by the healthier spouse as the couple ages. When older couples divorce, they leave behind the security of their partner’s caregiving and, potentially, their spouse’s superior healthcare protection. A skilled attorney can ensure that the decision to divorce is not clouded by the fear that comes along with failing health.
If you are part of an older, but failing, marriage, Maryland divorce attorneys are more equipped than ever to handle the particular challenges of dissolving a long-time marriage. Parting with your companion of so many years may be difficult, but rest assured that your attorney will take care of technical parts while you focus on healing and moving on.
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