Older couples are divorcing at greater rates than ever before. As Reuters reports, the divorce rate for couples with at least one spouse who is 50 or over doubled in the past 25 years at a time when divorces for younger couples actually decreased. So-called gray divorce offers individuals the opportunity to find independence and fulfillment late in life, but it also comes with some very serious risks. The challenges that gray divorcees face are unique, but by preparing for them beforehand they can be met and overcome effectively.
The emotional toll of a gray divorce
Divorce is an emotional roller coaster no matter how old those going through it are, but it can be especially difficult when the spouses have been together for decades as is often the case during a gray divorce. Unfortunately, individuals going through a gray divorce are also being asked to make major legal and financial decisions at a time when emotions are running high. Simply put, those heated emotions can lead to bad decisions being made that could jeopardize one's retirement plans and financial future.
Gray divorce can be particularly hard on women. As Forbes reports, 27 percent of women who are gray divorcees live in poverty, compared to just 11 percent of men who divorced later in life. Those risks are exacerbated by the fact that in many relationships, particularly ones involving two older spouses, it is still common for the husband to be in control of the finances. When those relationships end in divorce, the woman can find herself blindsided by the lack of financial resources available to her.
Overcoming the challenges
Financial independence is an important step towards being prepared for retirement after a divorce. Opening up separate bank accounts and cancelling joint credit cards is something that should be done as soon as possible, even during the marriage if possible. It is also important to understand that it is usually possible to claim a portion of an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits, which can further help cushion some of the blow that may follow a divorce.
Dealing with the house can be a complicated issue for gray divorcees. The good news is that because most people divorcing later in life don't have children living at home, it is much easier to downsize. However, if the couple has lived in the house for a long period of time then letting go of it can be difficult. But downsizing is something that most gray divorcees should seriously consider in order to protect their retirement plans.
Family law help
Divorce poses many financial and legal challenges and it is not always easy for people to know what decision is the best one. Fortunately, a family law attorney can help clients who are going through a divorce understand what their options are. An experienced attorney can also inform clients about what decisions are likely to best protect their long-term interests so as to better prepare them for life after divorce.