The divorce rate in the U.S. is down for every age group except those over 50. And now one of the most well-known power couples in the world, Bill and Melinda Gates, are joining the ranks of those who chose to divorce later in life.
It’s got the internet buzzing with speculation … and a lot of relationship experts are weighing in on their divorce in particular, and “gray divorce” in general. Here’s what they’re saying.
Why Are We Seeing More Divorce After 50?
It may sound strange, but some experts believe that gray divorce has become more common not because a couples’ situation is bad, but because their situation is good. The kids have left home (usually) so spouses in their 50s and 60s have fewer family responsibilities, greater financial resources, they may have good jobs and interesting hobbies. They are looking forward to the next phase of life … and they want to make that time count.
Whether it’s an unhappy 75-year-old unwilling to stick it out one day longer, or a 55-year-old who doesn’t want to regret not taking a chance at a more fulfilling love life, seniors are increasingly willing to take a risk to find greater life satisfaction.
The Gates clearly have had a good life together, and many around the world have benefitted from their work. Indeed, they say they intend to continue to work together at their foundation, but as Bill Gates wrote in his Twitter announcement, “…we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
They’ve started their divorce journey.
With $130 billion between them, Bill and Melinda Gates are unlikely to experience the kind of difficult financial decision-making that the rest of us experience. From the information provided so far, it sounds like they are headed for an amicable and uncontested divorce.
Undoubtedly, what will be particularly important for them – what is important to many well-off couples – is the ability to keep the details of their personal life and the terms of their divorce out of court and out of the public eye. Their lawyers will conduct private divorce negotiations or they could use divorce mediation to arrive at mutually agreeable conditions for the division of finances and assets.
Divorce negotiation and divorce mediation are both private and the agreements that are reached can also be private.
Gray Divorce and Adult Children
The Gates’ children are grown and their parents made plans for their inheritance some time ago so this won’t be part of their divorce considerations. But for many couples divorcing after 50, estate planning and inheritance should be part of the conversation.
Many seniors do remarry and their adult children’s concerns about being left out with the start of a new family can sometimes get in the way of accepting the new spouse. Discussing how you want to contribute to your adult children’s future can bring everyone greater peace of mind. That may mean drawing up a will or establishing a trust.
You may also consider what kind of premarital agreement you might want in future to protect their interests, your interests, and your future spouse’s interests – especially if you have a closely held business.
Contact the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward
Divorce after 50 doesn’t need to be viewed as a tragedy. For some, it’s a new lease on life. Your divorce can be amicable and private. Call the Law Office of V. Wayne Ward at 817-789-4436 to speak with a Ft Worth uncontested divorce lawyer or send us a message. We’re here to support you.