Divorce Over 50: Special Considerations
Not all marriages are ‘til death do you part, and that fact does not change as someone ages. Divorce happens to those nearing retirement just as it does to younger couples – sometimes after one year of marriage, sometimes after ten – and the increasing rates of divorce over 50 have led to it earning a nickname, “gray divorce.” Whether you are splitting up due to infidelity, incompatibility, or any other reason, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when you are looking at divorcing later in life.
Divorce at any age throws a curve ball in financial planning. Living alone costs more, and your income will likely be less than you anticipated. Additionally, if your spouse was the one to keep track of the household financials, you may not be prepared to manage any accounts. When you are over 50, there is less time to rebuild savings and recoup losses, so it is especially important to keep your investments low-risk.
Retirement accounts can be one of the most complicated assets to split, and at this stage in your life it is more critical than ever to ensure that your savings for your future are divided equitably. For some couples, both parties have been contributing to retirement accounts; for others, particularly when one person has been a stay-at-home parent, the money may have been earned by only one spouse but is for the benefit of both.
For those who own a home, much hinges on its eventual fate. If one person keeps the house, they benefit from its equity but must be prepared to individually handle all the upkeep and maintenance costs. If the house is sold and the earnings split, both parties can use the money to make up for income shortfalls if necessary; however, there can be many emotions tied up in selling the family home and it obviously necessitates a search for new housing for both parties.
Any children from your marriage are likely teenagers or adults, but even if you do not need to establish a custody agreement, those children must still be considered during the divorce process. You and your ex-spouse may have to work out a system for college expenses or health insurance. You’ll also need to review beneficiaries named on accounts and insurance policies, to ensure that such money goes to your children instead of your former partner. And if your children are young enough to require a custody agreement, there will be legal issues to sort out as well as the complex emotions of adolescents.
While none of the above considerations should keep you in a marriage you or your spouse no longer wants to be in, it is vital that you think through each of these matters (and others that may pertain to your specific circumstance) as you begin the process of legally divorcing. Some couples turn to legal separation, which brings with it many of the benefits without requiring quite as much complex wrangling. Whichever path you choose, finding the right divorce attorney to help you through the process will make your transition significantly simpler.