Divorce After 50Divorce After 50

You thought you’d spend your whole life together. You’ve spent years seeing your future in terms of your relationship. Now you’re facing a prospect you never planned for: getting divorced after the age of 50.

First off, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this. Lots of marriages hit up against problems many years in that they just can’t weather. I’m not just saying that – senior divorce has become a bona fide trend. About a quarter of all divorces in 2010 were those of people over 50.

Being single at 50 or older isn’t strange or abnormal, even if it feels that way to you at first (after all, getting used to any big life change takes time). But it does present a number of unique problems and hurdles you’ll have to get past in order to happily move into the next phase of life.

5 Tips for Weathering a Divorce After 50

Divorce comes with its share of pain and inconvenience, but it also opens opportunities for potentially moving forward down a better path. Here are some of the main things you can do to make the transition easier.

  1. Get the help of professionals.

Navigating all the legal and financial stuff is extremely complicated – especially if you have kids. Lawyers and financial analysts aren’t cheap, but making the investment in skilled professionals willing to work on your behalf now can save you a lot of money in long haul.

You don’t want the divorce to be any more hostile or messy than it has to be, but you also don’t want to get stuck with a bad end of the deal because your ex bothered to hire a good lawyer and you didn’t. Fight for what’s fair so you can move forward better off.

And meeting with a therapist may well be worth your time too. A divorce inevitably leads to a number of complicated feelings – anger, guilt, loneliness, confusion – don’t feel like you have to deal with those entirely on your own.

Do the work to find professionals you can trust. Ask your friends for recommendations and check local review sites. Ask for references and trust your gut. Do you feel like this person is qualified and really has your best interests at heart?

  1. Expect your cost of living to go up.

Many of the costs you’ve been sharing with your spouse will now fall firmly on your own shoulders. You don’t have someone else’s paycheck to put toward rent or mortgage payments. The cost of health insurance is typically higher for a single person than a married one. And if you were depending on your spouse’s retirement benefits or social security when making your own retirement calculations, you’ll have to rethink the budget you had in mind.

Being single is costly. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. If you were married to someone who wasn’t financially responsible, it may even be like losing the albatross around your neck. But for most new divorcee’s, you’ll need to take a look at your current lifestyle and figure out what you can cut to be able to afford your new life as a single person.

  1. If you have kids, work out a way to stay civil as you both continue to see them.

Kids can bring lots of joy to life, but boy do they make a separation more complicated. It’s likely that simply the news of your divorce will be hard on your kids, you definitely don’t want to make it harder by adding unnecessary drama to the process.

You and your ex may have your own conflicts and difficulties, but you have to work to make sure those don’t infect your relationships with your kids. You’ll still need to be in contact to some degree for things like holidays, graduations, and weddings, so work out a way to stay civil with each other – even if only in limited doses – so your family can continue to enjoy important occasions together.

  1. Consider what you want your life to look like.

Good news! We’ve made it through the hardest of the steps. Now it’s time to figure out what your new life outside of a partnership will be. Seeing the world and the possibilities within it on your own can take some getting used to. When your brain’s been in couple mode for years it can become difficult to think outside of it, but you now have loads of new possibilities.

Deciding what you want your life to be now is entirely up to you. You can choose a new place based entirely on what you want in a home or apartment (as long as it’s within your budget). You can decorate the way you want, and you can choose what activities to pursue based on what you want to do.

Divorce gives you the gift of having a little more room to explore what the world has to offer on your own terms. So think outside of the box and figure out what you want your life to look like now that it’s totally up to you.

  1. Get out there.

Being single doesn’t mean being lonely. Seek out some new hobbies and social groups. Join a meetup. Ask around about good book groups your friends can recommend. Take up golf. Maybe you’ll discover a gift for pottery you didn’t have the slightest idea you had, or a passion for all those famous 19th-century Russian writers that you always assumed would be too stuffy for your tastes.

Do not sit alone at home. Well, you can do that some if it’s a way you enjoy spending your time, but make sure it’s not all you do.

And when you feel up to it (although it’s by no means required), you can even try dating again. Online dating makes it possible to meet all kinds of new people – no need for awkward, well-intentioned set ups by your friends – you can find people you like on your own.

 

A divorce is the end of something. It may even be the end of something that brought a lot of good into your life at some point. But once you get past the worst of it, it opens up a lot of space in your life to explore new things and figure out who you are on your own.

No matter how old you are, there’s still time to learn new things about the world and yourself. Being on your own again can make it that much easier to do so.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

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