The dissolution of a marriage is usually marked by disappointment and it is almost never a happy event. Many legal, financial, parental, emotional, and practical aspect require changes. Divorce is never easy, even if both sides are cooperating well through it. But at the beginning of the elderly stage of life, it is even harder. We made a list of six people who went through a divorce after 50, and here is what they would like you to learn from their experiences.
“I wish I had known how the divorce would impact my oldest children even more than my youngest still at home.”
Gail Konop’s divorce ended a 25-year marriage in 2011. A 57-year-old yoga studio owner said that her son who lived at home got used to it, but her adult daughters had a hard time dealing with the situation. Knop said: „He got to see us as individuals living in his life. He saw how there was less stress, and he got used to it. But my daughters are coming home periodically and they couldn’t keep up with the changes.“ Her daughter even said after a while: “I don’t want to come home anymore — it’s so weird.” Divorce might be confusing and frustrating for children, but of course, each situation is unique.
“I wish I’d explored the job market before I separated; I think I would have worked harder to try to keep the marriage together if I’d realized just how bleak things are out here.“
Adults who haven’t been working for a long time, find it very difficult to re-enter a workforce, especially women. You might consider asking for help from financial and career counselors. Beth Hodges, a family law attorney at Horack Talley in Charlotte, N.C. said: „Sometimes when we’re negotiating, I have a client who wants to get her degree to increase her earning capacity. We’ll find out what the cost would be to go back to school and get statistics on what type of income my client can expect to receive once she finishes.“
“I wish I had known how painful it would be.”
Kelly James’ marriage ended after 19 years when she was 50. A ghostwriter was surprised by how hard it was for her to adjust to the loneliness. She said: „Even if you don’t have the happiest of marriages, there’s something comforting about having someone in your home, your bed. I’m lonely sometimes and miss being part of a twosome. It’s also difficult to not have my kids with me all the time — their dad and I do a good job of co-parenting, but I miss them when they’re at his house.“ Hodges recommends finding new hobbies, volunteer opportunities, and therapists to help her clients adjust to new life. She explained: “[Divorce] is a very traumatic, life-rattling experience, especially if you’ve been married for 25 to 35 years. [Divorce] can be transformative. You’re going to survive and feel better about yourself and about your future.”
“I didn’t think my friends would actually bail on me, but I was wrong.”
A Chicago-area divorce attorney, Lynn Cohen, said this happened with most of her older female clients: „A lot of their friends cut them off — even their best friends. You might keep one or two close friends, but that whole crowd is not going to be there. They’ll help you while you’re going through [the divorce] but not after it’s done.“ It is important to be proactive about expanding your networks, which you can do by joining travel groups for single people. Cohen continued: „If you’re not active in your community and giving back, you’re kind of by yourself. Every divorce is a different set of facts and circumstances and must be viewed individually. They’ll say, ‘When I was divorced, I was able to get everything in the house.’ That’s unnerving and usually bad advice. I tell people that they’re going to have to make their own life.“
“I wish I had known how expensive it would be.”
James’ uncontested, relatively conflict-free collaborative divorce cost about $35,000 and that shocked her. She said: „In retrospect, a ‘traditional’ would have probably been a lot less expensive.“ Hodges explained why it might cost a lot: „Sometimes clients run up their bills because they’re constantly calling us and engaging us in half-hour consultations. We’re there to counsel and provide guidance to a client, but there is a cost. Ask questions about the attorney’s billing practices, how the lawyer charges. If there are things you can do for the attorneys, like gathering financial information, you can save money by doing that yourself.“ Make sure you consult a divorce attorney about paying for the divorce and life after.
“I wish I had known how liberating it would be — and how that can be a little scary.”
“Being only responsible for myself (and my kids) has let me make decisions based on what I want. From little decisions like what to hang on the wall of my house to bigger ones like where to travel and what kinds of projects to do on the house, is all up to me. That feels good but can also be overwhelming. It was like I had second adolescence. I had so much fun, I knew myself so much better. At first, it was really nerve-racking and the dating world had changed. It was energizing (until it got exhausting),“ Konop said.