People sometimes experience empty nest syndrome when their children move out of the house. For example, a couple may have gotten married at 25 and had two kids by 30. Over the next 20 years, they raised those children, who then went off to school. Each spouse is now roughly 50 years old, and they are considered empty-nesters.
In some cases, this significant shift in a family’s dynamic can lead to a divorce. It’s one of the potential reasons for the recent rise in gray divorce cases in the United States. Why might children leaving home cause a couple to split up? The are a few potential reasons.
A marriage always had its problems
In some cases, couples will say that they always had issues with their marriage. They just didn’t do anything about it because they put their children ahead of their own happiness. But now that they are done raising the children and those children are adults themselves, the parents feel like they want to focus on their optimal life for the years that they have left. That may include finally getting a divorce that they’ve been thinking about for some time.
The children were a distraction
In other cases, the children unintentionally served as a distraction from the issues in a marriage. A couple may have felt very close when they got married, but they’ve been drifting apart over the last 20 years. If they didn’t have children, they would’ve noticed these changes in their relationship. But the children took up so much time and energy that it only became clear that they’ve drifted apart after they became empty nesters.
Spouses may need to re-define their relationship
Finally, some couples are just not sure what life will look like after their children leave the house and the ultimate reality can be jarring. Maybe they’ve had long-term questions about the stability of the marriage. Maybe they’ve been putting off couple’s counseling. They have to consider things like retirement and their future, and this is just a natural time to reassess everything about their life. This leads some couples to determine that their marriage needs to end.
A gray divorce can be complex, especially when there are significant assets involved, such as retirement accounts. Couples need to be well aware of their legal rights if they choose to move forward with a decision to divorce. Regardless of their reasoning for this decision, seeking legal guidance proactively can be helpful.