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Gray divorces: Why they happen and how to avoid them

Somewhere around 2007, a new phrase entered the vocabulary of the divorce attorney: "gray divorce."

It was once virtually unheard of for couples who had been together for decades to divorce, no matter how decayed the bonds of their matrimony -- now, it's becoming much more commonplace.

Some divorce attorneys think they know the reason for the trend -- it's really as simple as the fact that human longevity has increased. People are living longer and staying healthier well into their seventh and eighth decades. Only a few generations past, someone who was aged 60 or older might decide that the hassle of a divorce was pointless, given how much longer he or she expected to live an active lifestyle.

Now, people approaching their 60s are seeing a future for themselves with another 20-25 healthy, active years and deciding that they don't want to spend the last 20-25 years of their lives in a miserable marriage.

Hopefully, you can avoid joining their ranks by following a few simple pieces of advice;

-- Don't assume that just because you're okay with the marriage that your spouse is also okay with the marriage. Talk about where you each are, emotionally, as you start to approach those "gray" years.

-- Take a frank assessment of your romantic life. Is it what you need it to be? Have all the other hassles of life gotten in the way and made you forget to pay attention to that part of your relationship? It's time to rekindle the passion you once had.

-- Take time to discuss what you each want out of the next 20 or 30 years. If you see yourself sitting in a comfy chair reading books and your spouse is envisioning long-distance trips to exotic locations, you've got some major compromises to make.

Hopefully, you'll find that the two of you have enough in common and enough joined goals that a gray divorce isn't in your future. If not, maybe a frank discussion can start you down the road toward the inevitable end of your marriage in a civilized way.

If you do find yourself going through a "gray divorce," consider consulting an attorney who will help you make the right trade-offs as your divide up decades' worth of investments. For more information on how our firm approaches complex property division, please visit our page.

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