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As empty nesters prepare for next chapter, many choose to go it alone

Life is full of different seasons. We go through our early years establishing basic skills and building relationships with our parents, siblings, and school friends. We get through high school and often choose higher-level education or training programs to help prepare for a career. We build our professional reputation before shifting into retirement and taking the time to relax and enjoy the journey.

With each transition in seasons, we are likely to evaluate both where we have been and where we are going.

For many of us, at some point in that journey we choose to find a partner. We marry, perhaps have children, and raise a family together. For some, particularly when children leave the home, the evaluation that comes with each transition can lead to difficult realizations. This could include the reality that the relationship with our chosen partner is no longer working.

Those who find themselves in this situation are not alone. A recent study published by the National Institute of Health notes that the divorce rate, particularly amongst those over the age of 50, grew significantly in 2010. The group analyzed more recent data, from 2019, and found that approximately 36% of adults over the age of 50 were going through or recently finalized a divorce. This is in line with a leveling of the previous surge noted in 2010. Interestingly, the only group that did not level and experienced a notable increase in divorce rate are those over the age of 65.

How can I prepare for a grey divorce?

Whether falling within the over 50 or over 65 age group, those going through a grey divorce are wise to have paperwork to help better ensure a fair split during the divorce process. Make a list of all assets, including retirement accounts, and estimated values. If business interests are present, it may be wise to get a professional valuation. We discussed further considerations that come with preparation for gray divorce in more detail in a previous article, available here.

It is important to use the information as an initial guide. Each divorce is unique and a failure to tailor the process to your specific situation can result in unintended consequences. An attorney experienced in gray divorces can help to mitigate the risk of any surprises after the divorce is finalized.

How can I prepare for life after a grey divorce?

After the divorce is finalized, it is important to focus on the next season of life. A recent post by clinical psychologist Ann Gold Buscho can serve as a roadmap. Some of the more helpful tips include exploring your own interests and creating a network of support. This could include friends and family members or a counseling group that can relate to your experience.

It is also helpful to maintain boundaries with adult children. Your relationship with your children will likely grow and transition into a friendship. However, professionals caution against using adult children as a sounding board during the divorce as this can damage the relationship between parent and child.

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