Once couples are through the intense early years of raising young children, caring for a busy household and working a demanding career, it’s commonly thought that the likelihood of divorce has passed. They’ve made it through the hard parts and can now enjoy the fruits of their labor. For many couples in Pennsylvania, however, this isn’t the case. Divorce for couples over age 50, often termed “gray divorce,” has more than doubled in the past 30 years.

Some couples may have been waiting for the children to leave home, staying in an unhappy relationship for the sake of their kids. Once the children are grown, they feel free to leave and pursue a lifestyle that makes them happy. Others may have been so focused on raising the children that they drifted apart from their partner and find they have little in common now that they don’t have children at home. Looming mortality has also been cited as a reason for divorcing at an advanced age. One partner may realize that they have a limited number of healthy years ahead, and they don’t want to spend them in an unhappy or mediocre relationship.

Whatever the reason, older couples who are divorcing often have complicated issues to consider. Their financial lives and estates are usually more complex and intertwined, which can make dividing up assets difficult. There are often retirement accounts, stocks and other joint property to consider.

A lawyer experienced in the issues that arise when people over 50 divorce, often with grown children and complicated estates, may be able to help navigate this difficult process. Couples often have preconceived notions about property division that may not coincide with the realities of family law. An attorney might help clarify the issues for all involved.