Age-Gap Challenges Among Couples that Lead to Divorce in NJ

The Likelihood of Divorce Can Substantially Rise for Couples with a Considerable Age Difference in Middletown, Long Branch, Lavallette, Howell, Point Pleasant, and Towns Across Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ

Is Age Gap a Factor in Divorce Decisions in New Jersey?The vows are said, the rings are exchanged, and the reception is a celebration of hope and true love. Nobody gets married thinking about divorce. However, some conditions in a marriage predispose the relationship to a possible separation. Having been married previously, blending families between couples whose children from their first marriage combine with children in their second marriage, which causes a more complex relationship within the family and an age gap of five years or more between the partners, can augment the possibility of divorce.

We see it all of the time in Hollywood. Examples include older men such as Kevin Costner, who married Christine Baumgartner, 19 years his junior, who recently had a very public and messy divorce. But Hollywood couples are full of older women marrying younger men. Lisa Bonet and Aqua Man star Jason Momoa had 12 years between them and were divorced in early 2022 after 16 years together. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were well known for their 15-year age gap, and their marriage lasted 8 years. With the challenge of a broad age gap and the constant pressure in Hollywood to fake it until you make it, many couples can’t hang on.

But it isn’t their fault. The United States is the sixth-highest nation in the world in divorce rate. Anywhere from 40%-50% of all marriages end in divorce. If it is a second marriage, the rate goes up to 60% and 73% for a third marriage. The most common reasons for divorce are financial issues (48%), infidelity (29%), alcohol/drug abuse (8%), and general disagreements (14%). There appears to be a sweet spot regarding age and marriage. Wedded couples at 20-24 years of age have a 20% chance of divorce, while those 25-29 have a 15% chance. Couples between 30 and 34 have a 14% chance, and couples at 35-40 have a 19% chance.

There isn’t that much of a difference based on age, but that is when both partners fall into that age range. What happens when the spouses have a significant age gap (more than 5 years)? The Atlantic recently published a study indicating that couples with an age gap of 5 years were almost 20% more likely to divorce than those with less than two years between them. The study revealed that the longer the gap, the higher the possibility of divorce. An age gap of 10 years gives couples a 40% possible divorce rate, while those who have 20 years between them have only a 5% chance of staying together.

Age Gap and The “Seven-Year Rule” Explained

Many news sources have arbitrarily decided to place the limit of five years. After five years, there start to be generational differences, cultural references, and tastes that pertain to each person’s age and experience. When dating, a calculation has been suggested to let you know if the age gap is too distant. To find if your pairing is socially acceptable, to calculate the minimum age of your potential partner, take half your age and add seven (50/2 = 25 +7 = 32). To calculate the maximum age of your partner, subtract 7 from your age and multiply it by two (50-7 = 43 x 2 = 86). This calculation is just a suggestion, of course.

Statistical Overview of Marriage Age Trends in New Jersey

The average age of New Jersey couples to get married is 30. In 2013, the average age was 28, and 10 years before it was 27. New Jersians are waiting to get married to have a certain level of economic stability. The median length of marriage in New Jersey is 21.1 years, close to the national average of 21.9 years. Wisconsin boasts the most extended average marriage rate at 22.5 years. Regarding age differences between partners, according to an article in Marriage Magazine, 5% of first marriages have an age gap (5 years or more), 24% of second marriages and 31% of third marriages. New Jersey’s overall divorce rate is well below the national average of 3.4 per 1,000 people as opposed to 2.6 per 1,000 in New Jersey. No specific data is available regarding age gaps and divorce, specifically in New Jersey.

Exploring Age-Induced Strains in Relationships

Typically at least one of the partners has been married before. Exes can always cause more stress and change the couple’s dynamic if there is conflict. The older someone is, the more experiences they have had, which probably includes a marriage (or more).

Another issue is children and fertility. Fertility treatment and possible surrogacy are complex matters that some relationships do not survive. An older spouse with no biological children may want more of their own, while a younger spouse who already has children may not be ready to go through it all again. The reverse can be true as well.

Health and activity levels are something else that can trouble a pair with many years between them. Younger spouses become caregivers to their spouses several years their senior. While someone at retirement age may be looking for a house in a retirement community, a younger spouse may still be craving adventures and nightlife that are more exciting than shuffleboard or bingo.

Financially, couples with a significant age gap are bound to have money troubles. If there is alimony and child support to be paid while building a new life and possibly a new family, money could be tight, especially if one partner is close to retirement. Depending upon the divorce settlement from a prior marriage, at least a portion of their retirement could go to their ex. An older spouse is more likely to push for a prenup to look out for everything they have worked so hard for over the years because an acrimonious divorce could wipe out their nest egg altogether.

Age-Gap Divorce and Its Effects on Children

Adult children of an older spouse who is going through a divorce aren’t taken into account during the split because they are way past the age of custodial obligations. However, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t fallout. If their relationship was good with the soon-to-be ex, they may feel the need to cut off ties in support of their parent, however painful that may be. They may resent one side or the other after having invested heart equity into the union.

Because most marriages with a significant age gap are usually not the first for the older party, the couple may try to stay together to protect the emotional well-being of the children. Many couples who have remarried are reticent to divorce again, causing more upheaval for their children. If the divorce goes through, child support and custody agreements can set a person back financially if they are already paying support from a previous marriage.

Is There Gender a Factor in Divorce Determinations?

A study conducted by New York University’s Paula England, University of Pennsylvania’s Paul Allinson, and Liana Sayer from the University of Maryland followed 3,622 couples who had divorced and had an age gap of more than five years. The study concluded that gender had little to do with who initiated the divorce. They found that the younger member of the marriage initiated the divorce 78% of the time.

Practical Insights for Couples with Significant Age Gaps in New Jersey

Bring Peace of Mind in Your Age-Gap Divorce with the Help of Our Family Lawyers in NJCreating realistic expectations is important, especially when the age gap is significant. Couples should talk about what they see to be with their partner in the future. If a much older spouse can no longer participate in extreme sports or marathons as they had done some years past, the expectation of the younger spouse must change.

Disagreements will come, but by listening to each other, asking for clarification, and avoiding statements that come across as blaming the other person (using “I” instead of “you”), spats can be resolved more quickly.

Embracing the stepparent role as a friend, cheerleader, and counselor to stepchildren is more likely to be well-received than acting as a disciplinarian. When adult children are involved, it is better to wait to offer advice unless requested. Meddlesome stepparents can find themselves in hot water with their spouses if boundaries are breached.

Lastly, although her 20-year marriage does not have an age gap, Maya Angelou gives excellent advice to all couples when she says, “Love recognizes no age, no barriers, it jumps hurdles and penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

Considering Divorce with a Large Age Gap in New Jersey? The Team of Attorneys at Bronzino Law Fim Can Provide Legal Advice

Getting a divorce with an age gap can be more complicated than a regular divorce. The financial and familial considerations differ from those of a divorce between spouses of a similar age. Your economic stability could hang in the balance. You need a family lawyer who can strategize and map out the best plan of action for you.

At the Bronzino Law Firm, we pride ourselves on our personalized service and years of experience in towns like Colts Neck, Freehold, Asbury Park, Beachwood, Point Pleasant, Lacey, Manasquan, Red Bank, Rumson, Brick, Holmdel, Wall, and Monmouth County and Ocean County. We have been helping families for many years. We can advise you on the important steps you need to take next to protect yourself and your future. Call us today for a free consultation at (732) 812-3102 or contact us online.