The highs and lows of getting divorced at a young age

This article looks at some of the challenges facing young couples who go through divorce.

In recent years there has been a very noticeable trend in divorce rates in Canada: older couples are divorcing at much higher rates than younger couples are. In fact, as Reuters reports, the divorce rate among those aged 50 and over has more than doubled in Canada in the past 25 years, while the divorce rate for younger demographics has either stayed steady or declined. This so-called "gray divorce" phenomenon is finally shedding light on the challenges of getting divorced at an older age, but it also risks distracting from the difficulties and opportunities younger people still face if they choose to get divorced.

What's so hard about divorcing young?

As the Globe and Mail points out, divorcing young, such as in one's 30s, may not seem so bad when compared to ending a marriage that has lasted for decades. After all, in contrast to gray divorcees, young couples who are splitting up often don't have large pensions or even a lot of property that needs to be split up. Furthermore, even if their divorce is difficult and expensive, they typically still have plenty of time to rebuild their savings afterwards.

However, the fact that the couple tends to have a smaller marital estate is itself one of the biggest challenges of getting divorced young. With fewer resources to prepare for a contentious divorce, young people tend to be in a particularly precarious situation, especially if they don't know what rights and obligations they have towards their former spouse.

Debt and children

For example, debt, especially from student loans or a new mortgage, can play an especially large role in a young couple's divorce. That debt could potentially be split up when the couple divorces. Furthermore, such debt could spiral out of control during a particularly bad divorce, thus ruining one party's credit just as he or she may need a good credit rating to start building their own financial independence.

Children, of course, are also an issue that young couples often have to face that older couples do not. For young couples who may already be struggling financially, child custody and support arrangements can add a further level of complication. Trying to disrupt the children's lives as little as possible, such as by splitting time evenly between both parents or keeping them in the same school, may work to the best interests of the child, but it can be an extra logistical and financial strain on the parents.

Resolving disputes

Because of these challenges, many young people going through divorce often opt to try to resolve their differences through a negotiated settlement, which is often faster and cheaper than going to court. An experienced divorce lawyer c an help any client who is considering divorce, no matter how young or old they may be, understand what options they have before them and what may be the best approach for both protecting their assets and other interests.