Dannenbaum Law Firm, PLLC

Health and economic effects of divorce on older people

People in Virginia who are 50 and older and who are getting a divorce should take steps to protect their health. Expert say that divorce is one of the most stressful life events for people at any age. The chronic stress and depression can worsen conditions including diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson's disease and high blood pressure.

Divorce is on the rise in this age group as well. Experts theorize that contributing factors are the economic independence of women, longer life spans and shifting expectations that marriage should be more fulfilling. Unfortunately, despite that economic independence, women may suffer more financially than men after a divorce. Men, on the other hand, may be more likely to lose their social networks and become more isolated after a divorce.

Despite these risks, couples who divorce at this age after a long marriage might still have an amicable relationship and remain good friends, and many people are happier after divorce. There are also steps couples can take to help mitigate these negative effects of divorce at an older age. They can actively seek out social obligations, and they should exercise regularly and avoid abusing alcohol. A pet can offer affection, and dogs are likely to get people out of the house. People can also seek professional help from counselors for psychological issues or doctors for medical issues.

Unlike younger couples, older couples are less likely to have child custody issues to work out. However, property division may become very important. If they have been together for a long time, they may have significant assets, and splitting those assets can be a complex process. People should make sure they understand whether there will be taxes or penalties associated with selling property or splitting accounts. Litigation can also consume financial resources, so couples may want to try to negotiate an agreement.

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