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Does Age Difference Make Divorce More Likely?


Numerous studies have attempted to show that an age gap in a marriage can be the sole cause of divorce. Every marriage is unique, as are the individuals who enter the marriage. While an age gap alone may not cause a couple to get divorced, it can contribute to the likelihood of the marriage ending.

A significant age gap can lead to challenges in a marriage, including a decision on children and finances. Large age differences may also add to any health issues the individuals have. If a couple decides that it is time for them to end their marriage, regardless of the difference in age, they may want to speak with a divorce lawyer to help guide them. When there is an age gap in the marriage, it can create additional difficulties in the divorce process. Working with a lawyer can help the couple work through certain issues that come up with an age gap.

Couples enter a marriage intending to stay together, even if they have an age gap between them that causes some family and friends to question their decision. To really know if an age gap causes problems in a marriage, research looks to both small and large age gaps. While every marriage is different and the parties involved have different needs and desires, generally, the larger the age gap, the more likely it is that problems in the marriage will eventually arise.

What if There is a Small Age Gap?

A small age gap in a marriage means that the spouses are only a few years apart in age. Overall, small age gaps pose little problems in a marriage. When people are just a few years apart, their lives may be on similar trajectories, and they may be at similar stages of their lives. This can make the marriage more likely to remain intact.

However, every couple is different, and problems can still arise. If a couple does get a divorce and they are nearly the same age, the age gap probably did not contribute to the decision to end the marriage.

What if There is a Large Age Gap?

The bigger the age gap, the more likely that gap will play a role in a couple’s decision to end their marriage. However, the actual ages of the couple can also play a factor. For instance, a couple getting married at 32 and 22 years old is very different from a couple getting married at 52 and 42 years old.

People in the latter example are well into their careers, are probably settled in life, and have a deeper understanding of what they are looking for in a partner. While they may still encounter problems and may get divorced, they are more likely to have a successful marriage because they are entering the partnership at similar positions in life.

In the former example, the couple will more likely have problems. The 32-year-old in that marriage is getting into the rhythm of adult life, probably has a steady job, and may be ready to settle down and have children. The 22-year-old, however, may not yet know what their career looks like and may not be ready to settle down and have children. That could cause strain on the marriage, especially if the couple has not discussed these decisions in detail before getting married. Ignoring those big questions can create serious problems later in the marriage.

How Does an Age Gap Affect Property Division?

Maryland is an equitable distribution state. A common misconception among divorcing couples is that this means an equal split. In reality, it means a fair split of marital property.

Assets and liabilities will be reviewed and divided up accordingly. However, when there is a large age gap between the individuals in the marriage, this can lead to distribution of assets that might be different if the parties were closer in age. For example, if one party is getting older and unable to move easily or safely, they may be the party who retains the marital home.

Can Alimony be Impacted by an Age Gap?

When a couple gets a divorce, alimony is sometimes paid from one spouse to another. The circumstances of how long and what amount is paid will vary. If one spouse is much younger than the other, alimony could be affected. For example, if the spouse who was the breadwinner in the marriage is also the older spouse and now retired, they may not have the means to provide alimony. The younger spouse might be able to receive other assets to alleviate the financial strain until they can get on their feet.

How Does Age Affect Child Custody?

When deciding custody of any minor children, a court will look to the best interests of the child. Courts will consider which parent the child has bonded with more, where the child goes to school, and may even consider the child’s preference if they are old enough.

An age gap in a marriage can make custody a more heated debate. Older spouses may not be able to properly care for their children, even though they still want to have a relationship with them. Courts will consider these factors when determining where the children will live after the marriage ends.

Can Divorce Impact My Retirement?

For couples close to or in retirement, the retirement benefits they receive can play an outsized role in the divorce. If one spouse is older and already receiving retirement income, they are not able to save more since they are not working. Typically, a spouse could claim at least a portion of the Social Security benefits of their ex-spouse, but this might be reduced if that would create a financial hardship for the spouse receiving the Social Security benefits.

Other retirement benefits, like a 401(k) account or a company pension, may also need to be divided. The considerations for these retirement plans may include tax implications for early withdrawal, making the decision of how to split these marital assets even more complicated.

Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Divorcing Clients Start a New Life

A large age gap may cause a couple to divorce. If you have decided to end your marriage, you have many decisions to make, but you do not have to go through this process alone. A Towson divorce lawyer at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC will offer you compassionate and experienced legal guidance and support. Contact us online or call us at 443-589-0150 to schedule your free consultation and get information about how you can begin your new life. Our offices are conveniently located in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland, and we serve clients throughout Baltimore, Baltimore County, Bel Air, Bentley Springs, Columbia, Freeland, Hereford, Hampton, Westminster, Essex, Monkton, Sparks Glencoe, Parkton, Phoenix, Pikesville, White Hall, Carroll County, Harford County, and Howard County.

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