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Gray divorces becoming much more common

The Baby Boomer generation in Arizona is getting closer and closer to retirement age. Many have had long marriages, and the children have moved out of the house. For many, it is the first time that they have been alone in the house with their spouse and start to realize that their relationship has changed over the years. This has led to an increase in the number of divorces for couples over 50-years-old. In fact a recent study showed that in 2009 about 25% of all divorces were with people over 50-years-old.

There are a variety of theories as to why this has occurred. One psychologist stated that as the notion of a lifelong marriage continues to weaken, it has changed people's perceptions of what a marriage is supposed to be and what they want out of a marriage. People at this age are generally going through other changes in their life, like retirement, and they start to rethink everything in their life. Other researchers stated that individual fulfilment is more important to be people now and they question whether they can achieve it in their current marriage.

Despite being a little older, people over 50 have to deal with many of the same things younger couples deal with in a divorce. Many will not have to deal with child custody or child support, but they will have to divide their property and in many cases alimony or spousal maintenance will be an issue.

There is no calculator for spousal maintenance like there is for child support though. Spousal maintenance is determined by weighing a number of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to, the standard of living and length of the marriage, the age and ability of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to find employment, whether one spouse gave up a career for the other spouse's career, the ability of the higher earning spouse to pay maintenance and others.

As more couples over 50 divorce, more and more couples will have to determine if one spouse will pay the other spousal maintenance. Spousal maintenance determinations can be legally complex and couples contemplating divorce may want to educate themselves on the legal issues.

Source: Times Free Press, "Gray divorcees: Shifting divorce culture claims more couples over 50," Karen Nazor Hill, April 20, 2014

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