Why does divorce happen after becoming empty nesters?

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

In some cases, couples turn to divorce as soon as they become empty-nesters. The last child goes to college and one of them files divorce paperwork.

This can often be rather shocking to children, and it may also come as a shock to the other spouse. They may have been married for 20 years and they are suddenly getting divorced. Why does this happen just because they are empty nesters?

What do they really want in life?

One reason it happens is because people start considering what they want the rest of their life to look like. They may already have been unhappy in the marriage, but it seemed wise to stay together and work to share the responsibility of raising the children. But now that they don’t have to do that, they can focus on what they really want moving forward.

How does it impact the children?

Other couples will do this intentionally because they believe a divorce will have a negative impact on young children. They wait for their children to be older so that it’s easier for them.

Were the children a distraction?

Finally, it’s worth noting that raising children can be distracting just because life is so busy. Some couples are not even aware that they are unhappy with their relationship. But after the children move out, it removes that distraction. They suddenly realize that there are a lot of problems with their marriage, and divorce may be inevitable.

If you’re getting divorced as empty nesters, you likely have substantial assets at this stage in your life. Be sure you know exactly what steps to take while working through the divorce.


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