You may have heard the term “gray divorce”, which originally meant a divorce for a couple that had been married 40 or more years. It was assumed that by that long of a time, everyone’s hair would be gray or starting to turn -- thus the name “gray divorce”.
However, there is an interesting shift going on in the United States these days. While the overall divorce rate has been going down, the divorce rate for Baby Boomers, the over-50 crowd who has generally been married between 20 and 30 years, has actually doubled.
There are some things to know about getting divorced after 50, especially since your family and financial situation are probably very different than someone younger getting divorced.
A couple in their 50s or older are probably going to be dealing with teenagers if they still have kids living in the house. So, a prolonged custody battle is probably not going to happen. However, teenagers are still subject to visitation rules. Regardless of your 16 or 17-year old’s social calendar, they may still be required to participate in visitation to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents.
An older parent may also be compelled by the court to assist with paying college tuition and expenses, regardless of whether you intended to support the child after age 18.
Now is also the time for some financial planning. It would be a shame if the money you intended to be left to your children went instead to your ex-spouse’s future spouse or even your children’s spouses in case they get divorced. Make sure your assets go to the people you want them to go to.
Did you know that single people pay 40-50% more in living expenses than married people do? Are you aware that household income can drop as much as 40% after marriage? With additional health expenses, you could be looking at a precarious financial situation if you are older and going through a divorce.
Perhaps you’re happy that you are getting to keep the house, that wonderful house that you have lived in and raised your children in. What you may be forgetting is that the house is pretty old, and older houses have much more maintenance and repair expenses to worry about.
You also need to discuss with your attorney any joint retirement accounts. There are significant penalties for early withdrawal on pre-tax retirement accounts. Before you take cash from a retirement account as part of a settlement agreement, make sure that your attorney has discussed all your options with you.
The bottom line is that financial planning is essential. It is highly likely that you will have to learn to do with less and you will need to have a game plan less you burn through your retirement money early.
If you’re not 65 yet, but you’re getting divorced, you may be looking at a problematic insurance situation. You’re not old enough to qualify for Medicare, but the cost of COBRA coverage with your ex’s insurance may be too high to afford.
There are options. The Affordable Care Act is a great place to start when looking for inexpensive rates and coverage. In a separate maintenance agreement, you may be able to stay on your spouse’s insurance while you split up other areas.
It’s important to talk to your attorney about any health issues you have and how those will be addressed as you navigate the end of the marriage.
As people live longer, it’s understandable that they may grow apart. As the kids grow up and leave the house, and increasingly women find themselves with better pay and opportunities, many couples find themselves wanting to get divorced.
Family Matters Law Group has the experience to help with a divorce after 50. If you are considering a gray divorce, and you live in the Atlanta metro area, contact us for a consultation by calling or using our online contact form. We’re ready to hear your story and fight hard for you. Getting a divorce later in life doesn’t have to be devastating. It can be the start of a great new chapter in your life!