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Protect your health in a late-life divorce

After being married for several decades, you may have caught yourself off-guard when you started having thoughts about divorce. You and your spouse have been through a lot together, perhaps including raising children, welcoming grandchildren into the world or maybe even launching and maintaining a business of your own. Several decades of marriage mean you have shared many memories, some likely happier than others.  

Regardless of what led to your decision to divorce, you are not the only baby boomer to do so. The divorce rate for your age group doubled in 20 years. Many spouses say infidelity, financial disputes and simply growing apart after living together for so long were causal factors in their decisions to divorce. Many spouses also say that after divorce, their health suffered, so if you're headed to court, you'll want to know how to protect, not only your assets but your physical, mental and emotional well-being as well. 

Common adverse health effects of late-life divorce 

Part of you may feel eager to transition to a new lifestyle and gain independence after having lived through several decades of marriage. However, the following list includes health issues that often arise for people who divorce at age 50 or beyond:  

  • Depression: Intense feelings of loneliness and isolation can set in when you suddenly become single after being married for 25, 30 or more years. Even if your relationship was unhappy, just having someone in the house with you most of the time is quite different than living alone.  
  • Risky behavior: If you divorce late in life, you're at risk for overeating, overspending, promiscuity and substance abuse, according to current data.  
  • Insomnia: It's not uncommon to have trouble sleeping as you get older. Late-life divorce can apparently exacerbate such problems, perhaps because your body is used to having someone nearby while you sleep and because, through the years, you and spouse adapted to each other's sleep patterns. 

In addition to physical or mental challenges associated with gray divorce, you may also encounter financial difficulties negatively affecting your new lifestyle. Going from a two-income household to a single income household is tough. If you happen to have sacrificed a career to raise your family and never re-entered the workforce, you may be especially vulnerable to a financial crisis after divorce. 

Support is available 

There are licensed counselors, community support groups and other resources available to help you come to terms with your circumstances and lay the groundwork for a healthy, successful future. As many challenging legal issues can arise in a late-life divorce, an experienced family law attorney is another great asset to have on hand.

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