Recently on our divorce forum a user asked, “I have been married to my spouse for thirty-five years. He just came home the other day and told me he has been having an affair and wants a divorce. I am shocked, but more importantly, I want to make sure I understand what this could mean for me and my financial status as I age.”
Gray divorce and the trend of divorcing later in life
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) reports that “divorce is up a whopping 64% among couples age 50 and above.” The reasons for this trend vary: couples don’t want to spend their remaining years with someone they don’t like, the demands of the marriage have changed, or children are leaving the house later and delaying divorce.
Regardless of the reasons, however, this increase in gray divorces has had a dramatic impact on couples and the issues they must consider following divorce such as pensions, retirement planning, and alimony.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that you have some real concerns about your future and questions about what you need to consider.
Things to consider in a gray divorce
Now you asked about issues you need to consider with a gray divorce. Let’s take a look at the top issues:
- Fewer years to recoup financial losses
If your husband had announced he wanted a divorce five years into your relationship your financial losses might have been limited. For example, you would have had more of your working years remaining and more time to recover economically from the divorce.
Another issue to consider is whether or not you fully understand your financial status. For example, if your spouse handles all the finances you may find that you have no idea how much money you have, what type of pension your entitled to receive, how the assets will be divided, or whether or not you will still have insurance coverage.
Not only will you need to review your financial position, you will also need to make sure you hire a professional who understands the challenges of a gray divorce and is not interested in spending thousands of dollars in litigation.
- Determine where you will live.
State laws will determine how the marital assets are divided between you and your spouse after the marriage. You may, however, be able to negotiate some type of arrangement which allows you to remain in the marital home. The goal of any arrangement, however, should be to ensure that both you and your spouse are able to live comfortably for your remaining years.
- Determine how family interactions might change.
Unfortunately, few couples discuss what family interactions might look like following divorce. While some families can continue to have family gatherings where everyone can attend and be social, there are many spouses who want little interaction with each other following a divorce. Discuss what your family holidays might look like. For example, can both of you attend family events? Regardless of what you decide, it’s always good to outline your expectations.
- Who will take care of you?
You didn’t mention your age or your health status but something all of us have to consider is who will provide care for us when we get infirmed. If you have not had this discussion yet, now is the time.
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