This week Al and Tipper Gore made a shocking announcement – they were splitting up after 40 years of marriage. This is particularly shocking because of the length of the marriage. According to this article on CNN.com, most couples seek a divorce during the first two years of marriage when the “honeymoon period” ends, at the 5-7 year mark when kids enter the equation, or after the kids leave home. It is rare for couples to divorce after 30 or 40 years of marriage – there is just too much time vested in the marriage.
What I found interesting about the article was the distinction between “hot” and “cold” divorces. Most hot divorces occur with younger couples – and are marked by loud, bitter and ugly legal battles. Conversely, in older couples that have been married longer, the divorce is cold – the couples slowly grow apart and the divorce is relatively uncontentious as the couple has disengaged and the couple has over time isolated itself.
My experience has been that the longer a couple is married, the more issues they have to resolve. Alimony and complex equitable distribution are frequent concerns for older couples. Health insurance and the cost of supporting two households on the same income are frequent issues that arise when couples seek a divorce after 30 or more years.