Life is Too Short to Simply Endure, But Divorce May Not be the Answer

By on November 19, 2019
Divorce

The good news: The population is aging; people are living longer and healthier lives. Women are flourishing in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s in ways previously unknown:  more financial independence, more interests outside the home, better overall health, and the reduction of traditional responsibilities such as raising children, keeping house and caretaking. The bad news:  Gray Divorces are on the rise with women filing for divorce more often than men in their Golden Years. Times are changing and the traditional roles of the Leave it to Beaver era marriages are crumbling and reforming in new and powerful ways. 

Statistically, divorce, in general, is declining for a host of societal reasons such as couples waiting longer to marry, financial independence, and other logical reasons.  However, divorce in the older age groups is on the rise.  In 1990, only  5 out of every 1,000 married Americans age 50 or older got divorced.  By 2015, the divorce rate for this group had doubled.  However, statistics can be misleading.  For example, among all adults 50 and older who divorced in 2015, 48% had been in their second or higher marriage.  Subsequent marriages always have a higher risk of failure.  However, the unusual trend is that those over 50 are divorcing at a higher rate than the younger population overall and women are filing more often than men.

But no matter the reason for the rise in Gray Divorce, it is a force to be reckoned with.  The Baby Boomers are starting to age into retirement and for many the financial prospects are grim.  This generation was born between 1946 and 1964 and they are now retiring at a rate of around 10,000 a day. Many of them do not have enough saved for their retirement due to a lack of preparation, unsteady employment, and the stock market decline of 2008 and 2009; so, it is curious as to why this generation is divorcing at such high rates since a divorce only adds to financial instability.  But there are solutions, short of a full out divorce, that may serve the interests of the couple that may not always be considered.  For example, a simple physical separation of residences, along with a clear cut agreement on finances, maybe all that is needed to give the parties the freedom they are looking for. 

DivorceIf we examine the overarching reason why we do anything in life, it usually comes down to trying to increase our overall happiness.  The driving force for the disillusionment in the older population may be that they are more aware on some level, whether consciously or not, that life is too short to simply continue in an unhappy marriage and endure until “death does them part.”  There is a rise in the collective unconscious that is alerting people that money and material things are not the roads to happiness; self-fulfillment is.  As one ages, life becomes more precious and the realization that you don’t have all the time in the world is a sobering one.  Why, then, spend the rest of this life with someone you barely tolerate or worse can’t stand anymore?  So many people have put up with their spouses for years and decades for a variety of reasons:  wedding vows, religious beliefs, finances, children, and perhaps most of all:  fear of change.  That is all changing.

Self-empowerment is leading older Americans to not only realize what is important in life but to actually do something to attain it.  But divorce can seem like a drastic choice.  However, there is another alternative that people don’t hear often enough, especially from divorce lawyers:  you don’t necessarily have to get a divorce to move on with life.  In fact, there are some cases where a divorce would be a bad business decision from a financial perspective.  There have been couples who come in for a divorce, but after analyzing finances, pensions and medical benefits and other real-life issues, the decision is to not divorce but to simply separate financially to a point that makes sense and live separate lives. 

This may seem illogical at first:  if you’re done with a spouse, why not just cut ties?  As a divorce lawyer, one has to explore all options and advise what is best in each situation.  Every single case is different and the breakup of a marriage is very similar to business dissolution.  Economics and common sense have to be part of the decision making the process.

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So, the bottom line is that if you are fed up with your spouse and you can’t possibly live with them for the rest of your days, keep an open mind about options.  Consult a lawyer about the choices available in your situation and explore a separation if that makes more sense than a divorce.  Of course, this will not work if one party wants to remarry, but it is something to consider, even in the short term, to resolve some of the problems that come with a Gray Divorce.

DivorceBonnie Jerbasi, Esq., has practiced law in New Jersey since 1986.  She is a litigator, family law mediator and collaborative attorney with an office in Montclair.  She is the author of You Don’t Have to Sell the Farm to Get Rid of the Jackass (Woodpecker Press 2014).  Throughout the years, she has been affiliated with organizations that are devoted to the development of mind, body and spiritual awareness, along with groups supporting those going through a divorce or dealing with other family law matters. She is writing her next book on the new paradigm of marriage. Born and raised in Montclair, Bonnie is a Jersey girl, lawyer, author and mother of two fabulous children.  Personal energy management and life balance are cornerstones to success in both her work and personal life. Spiritual growth and helping others, as well as travel and time spent with family, are her joy. Buy her book here.

 

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Life is Too Short to Simply Endure, But Divorce May Not be the Answer