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Late-Life Divorce


Although the overall divorce rate is trending downward, it is going up sharply for couples over 50. While the fact that you may be embarking upon a well-traveled path can be reassuring, you nevertheless need to understand how it will affect your own life and make a forthright assessment of the consequences you are likely to face with a late-life divorce. For your specific questions and concerns, consult the family law lawyers at the Law Offices of Thomas C. Rowsey. We assist Atlanta residents and other individuals throughout Georgia in exploring their options when they are dissolving a marriage.


There are many potential reasons for deciding to divorce late in life. For example, in some cases, children are already grown or mostly grown. A spouse who never sought divorce out of concern for the effect it could have on children may feel released from that pressure. Furthermore, the “empty nest” syndrome can make an older spouse realize that he or she has grown distant from a husband or wife. At mid-life, a husband or wife may seek out new experiences and new people.

Longer lifespans mean that people in their fifties have plenty of years ahead of them, and they do not see the value in working at a relationship that they feel has deteriorated beyond repair. This is especially true for spouses who both work and who already enjoy a certain measure of financial independence. An individual may decide to pursue a personal goal or direction not shared by his or her spouse. It is important to remember that Georgia is a no-fault divorce state, so there is no need to cite any grounds for divorce other than irreconcilable differences, which simply means that the marriage has broken down beyond the point of repair.

Divorce for couples late in life generally involves two primary issues: the division of assets and debts as well as arrangements for spousal support or alimony. Since Georgia is an equitable distribution state, assets that are deemed to be marital property are divided in a manner that is equitable, or fair, but not necessarily equal. For older couples, the division of assets can mean the sale of the family home, with the proceeds divided fairly between the spouses. Other assets that may have to be divided include retirement funds. In some cases, parts of pension plans or other assets may be considered separate property, such as when the spouse contributed to the plan or acquired the property before the marriage. Separate property is not divided between the spouses upon divorce but remains in the sole possession of the spouse who acquired it.

In most divorces, spousal support is a temporary arrangement that lasts until the receiving spouse remarries or becomes self-sufficient. It is not intended to punish the higher-earning spouse but rather help the lesser-earning spouse maintain a similar quality of life to what he or she enjoyed before the marriage ended. While child support and child custody may be an issue in some situations, they are less likely to be involved in late-life divorces because children tend to be adults. However, the spouses may want to reach an agreement on how they will divide key expenses involving their adult children, such as college tuition or weddings.


Even if a late-life divorce is the right option for you, it is critical that you understand what you can reasonably expect from the process. For advice, assistance, and representation in the Atlanta area, you can contact the divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas C. Rowsey at (770) 993-5317. Alternately, you can use our online form