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Divorce After Decades of Marriage: How to Make Sense of It All

The headlines from not that long ago about Bill and Melinda Gates calling it quits after 27 years together have set us all back on our heels. Divorce after decades of marriage can often feel like it comes from left field to blindside everyone completely. These divorces are not uncommon and happen for many reasons, but what happens in the aftermath? The endings of these relationships don’t just affect the divorcing couple; they can have a ripple effect throughout many people’s lives. Here’s what to know if you enter into a divorce after being married 20 or 30 (or more) years. 

Emotional Difficulty 

When you’re disentangling decades of your life together with another person, it’s not as easy as just saying goodbye. The experience can be emotionally draining, even if it’s a mutual agreement. Along with good legal representation, it’s a good idea to speak with a counselor to help you sort through your feelings. 

Financial Implications 

An essential lesson in this is that divorces create expenses, not income. That’s not a reason to avoid it if you and your partner are unhappy in your marriage, but it’s something to think about. If one spouse stayed out of the workforce for some time, there might be concerns about maintaining a standard of living. It can take a while to find employment, and alimony isn’t always going to support a lifestyle. You will also need to think about what to do with the house. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Considerations such as retirement, social security, investments, and more will all come into play. 

Interwoven Lives 

Each of these considerations may need a surgical hand to untangle. It’s one thing to get a divorce after only a few years, but after 20, 30, or 40 years, there is so much in your life that can’t be untied. The financial part is only a piece; you may also want to think about the social aspect. Interwoven lives mean interwoven hobbies, friends, and communities. 

Other’s Expectations

When Bill and Melinda Gates announced their divorce a couple of months ago, the entire world talked about it. If they couldn’t make it work after almost 30 years, with all of their collected wealth and status, how could an average person expect to make it? There isn’t one right answer to why some marriages work, and some don’t. You don’t have to stay married simply because people expect you to. 

Do you have questions about divorce after decades of marriage?   

We are Georgia divorce and child custody attorneys. This is all we have done since 1995. We can help. If you need help or have any questions, we would be happy to speak with you via email, text, or phone. Check us out at

Scott Shaw
Shaw Law Firm, PC
(770) 594-8309 (phone or text)
[email protected]