Divorce Recovery Advice: New Complications Resulting from Late-in-Life Divorce

As you may recall from several earlier blog posts, I am a woman who divorced after 37 years of marriage.  I worked hard after my divorce to build a fulfilling new life. Except for limitations that I know will come with advancing age, I have had no need to consider (potential) problems down the road.  ……Then I read an article in the New York Times that revealed a relatively recent set of circumstances that now commonly befall senior divorced men and women and their adult children.

The article refers to a woman who tries her best to visit her divorced aged parents, living in different assisted living facilities.  “I make the circuit,” she said. She visits her mother, in a facility in Rhode Island, then she visits her father in his apartment about a half-hour away in Massachusetts, then his second wife, (the woman’s stepmother), in a nearby nursing home.  Finally, she stops to see the man who was her mother’s second husband for nearly 20 years.  “Four stops,” the woman said. “I don’t get as much time with each of them as I’d like.”

This is the aftermath of a spike in the divorce rate that struck in the 1970s. States liberalized their divorce laws, working women became less inclined to remain in unsatisfying marriages, the cultural stigma of divorce faded — and 30 years later, the grown children of these broken marriages are dealing with the unanticipated consequences.

“It adds another layer of complexity to an already complex and emotional situation,” said Suzanne Mintz, president of the National Family Caregivers Association.  Years after parents split, their children may wind up helping to sustain two households instead of one, and those households can be across town or across the country.

With remarriages, moreover, the cast of characters increases. Children may find themselves caring for three or four older people instead of one or two, dealing with several sets of doctors, social workers, accountants and attorneys. And with stepsiblings, sometimes a squadron of them.

“There are more people to share some of the burden, but also more people to negotiate with,” said Xenia Montenegro, author of an AARP report on midlife divorce (PDF). “You may have more sources of support, or more sources of conflict.”

This is a guest post by Judy Smith. Judy specializes in helping women create a new life after divorce. She uses experience and skills acquired over a lifetime to help divorced people transform their lives. Get the personalized help you need by joining her Divorce Coaching Club.

“It’s never too late to live happily ever after.”

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One thought on “Divorce Recovery Advice: New Complications Resulting from Late-in-Life Divorce

  1. Vita

    My ex and I divorced in 2010 after almost 33 years of marriage.. I felt like the women who helped put her husband through law or medical school and as soon as he began to do well he finds someone else and divorces his wife for someone else. Though I don’t feel I can ever trust him again. For for than 26 years my job paid more than his than I retired to stay home with our 10 year old adopted twin daughters.. He left when the girls were 16. He said he was depressed and needed a place of his own so he could work on his depression. A few months later he introduced a woman friend to one of our daughters at an Easter Brunch. Several months later she found out that he had met this woman 3 weeks before he had told us he was moving out. He now collects his retirement approx 60k and has a job which pays him upwards of 100K to 150K a year in addition to the retirement. Before he filed for divorce he talked me into using my ira to pay off one of the credit cards so we would have more $$$ for him to rent a place. I thought it was just for a few months so he could get help with his depression. Big mistake because about 6 months later he filed for divorce and that credit card was no longer part of the divorce financial statement. Not to mention I no longer had that portion of my IRA.. Now both girls live with me.. He no longer has to pay child support (they are almost 19) He does pay for Health Insurance (not sure how much longer).. and I support them for everything else with my retirement income. Ladies .. be aware that men are not the only ones who get taken in a divorce. Listen to your lawyer when she says .. You can get more than you are asking.

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