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Gates’ divorce shines light on process for older individuals

In the last several weeks, the world learned that Bill and Melinda Gates, two of the wealthiest people in the world, plan to end their marriage in divorce. The Gates’ have been married for almost three decades and share three adult children. Their decision to divorce may come as a surprise to some since their long-term union may have appeared ready to stand the test of time.

Their divorce, however, provides a strong example of a divorce trend that is not uncommon throughout California and the rest of the country. Termed “gray divorce”, this trend involves couples in long-term marriages choosing to terminate their marital unions once they have reached older ages. This post will look at the Gates’ divorce in the context of gray divorce and offer information about the process to readers. As with all posts on this blog, readers are reminded that no legal advice is provided herein.

Ending a long-term marriage

The end of a marriage can be complex no matter how long the partners to the couple have been together. When they are young and have young children, the parties to a divorce may find their difficulties lie in custody and support determinations. When they are older, though, these complications may not be relevant as their children may be grown and out of their home. In great divorces, personal finances and investments are often the matters that complicate the ends of marital unions.

In the case of Bill and Melinda Gates, money may not be an issue for either of the parties as they both possess significant wealth due to their involvement with the Microsoft Corporation. Similarly, many individuals who choose to divorce later in life are near or in retirement when their marriages end and determining who receives what property and how to assign marital or separate property titles to possessions can make getting divorce more complex.

Why do long-term marriages end?

There is no single reason why some long-term marriages end in gray divorce. For some, divorce releases individuals from relationships that have changed overtime. For others, divorce provides an opportunity for partners to seek out their own paths for their remaining years. Divorce no longer carries with it the stigma that it once carried in the past, and more older individuals choose to divorce because they feel comfortable engaging with the process.

Marriages end for many reasons, and those who choose to divorce later in life have their own rationales for terminating their marital unions. Whenever an individual chooses to end their marriage, they may do so on their own terms. They may also choose to solicit the help of trusted family law attorneys to provide them with advice and representation throughout their divorce proceedings.