Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Reasons driving divorces among older individuals

For many Utah couples who have been married for decades, their relationships represent an important aspect of their lives. Divorces among people age 50 and over, however, have been on the rise compared to other age groups. These are known as gray divorces. Although some people cite growing apart as the reason for their splits, a research project that interviewed 40 men and 40 women revealed very specific and concrete motivations for divorcing.

Some trends emerged along gender lines. Among men, financial issues and approaches to child rearing strained their marriages. In one example, a man reluctantly chose to divorce his wife because of her increasingly destructive spending habits. Another man explained that he resented his wife for undermining his desire to raise their children with a focus on responsibility and pursuing goals.

Women often cited their husbands' addictions to drugs, alcohol or pornography as well as emotional abuse. One interviewee tried for years to help her husband break his drinking habit. When he came stumbling home one night, she finally decided to end the relationship. In another example, a woman recounted years of verbal abuse that included claims that she had ruined her husband's life. She eventually reached a breaking point after 25 years.

A person who has been married for a long time may have accumulated substantial marital assets. Legal counsel could help such an individual through the property division process. An attorney might also inform the client about rights to portions of savings, investments and real estate. With legal representation, a spouse could negotiate a fair divorce settlement privately and avoid the costly delays of a litigated divorce.

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