Divorce after 50? – Be Prepared Emotionally and Financially
Recent studies have shown that one in four divorces are being filed by spouses over the age of 50. This shift has become a cause for concern for scholars and financial professionals because they are seeing the impact that it can have on these generations both emotionally and financially.
When nearing or in retirement a divorce can put a significant burden on assets and finances since there is little or no time to recuperate the losses incurred due to a divorce settlement.
Susan Brown, author of Gray Divorce: A Growing Risk Regardless of Class or Education--a study on the rising rates of divorce among older generations—says that older divorcees have just 1/5 of the wealth that their married counterparts do. If you are considering a marital divorce and you are over the age of 50 it will be important to consider the impact it may have on your finances. Brown strongly suggests finding ways to end a mid-life marriage that will not substantially reduce your net worth. It will be crucial to maintaining financial stability after your divorce is finalized.
Divorce is one of the biggest transitions that you will experience in your life and, for most people, it will require a significant change in lifestyle, both socially and financially. Remember, expenses are all but duplicated but the size of the pie is cut in half. It can be challenging to expand your social circle when you are used to having mutual friendships with your spouse and, at times, a new divorce can feel lonely and overwhelming.
In her study, Brown found that a women's standard of living can drop almost 27 percent while a man's tends to increase by nearly ten percent. Factors contributing to this are an unequal determination of divorce settlement, increased likelihood of helping children financially or with living arrangements and having lost important years of career growth, which makes it difficult to return to the workforce if getting a job will need to be part of your post-divorce income plan.
When looking to your emotional well-being, consider how you will keep active and social as these types of activities will help you maintain positive physical and psychological health. Reaching out to friends with whom you've lost touch, taking a class you've always been interested in, or doing a home improvement project that you've wanted to do for a while. These things can help you build the framework of a new you and help you to feel hopeful about your new life.
Make a Plan
If it can be avoided, try not to jump head first into a divorce without doing some planning for your finances and your lifestyle. If you are well prepared for your divorce, prior to making the final decision, it will serve to benefit your well-being through the proceedings--which can be long and draining. The following three recommendations can help you manage the challenges that you may be faced with during your divorce.
Be organized with records and talk to a professional. You will need to have copies of financial statements, tax returns, social security numbers, insurance policies, account logins, wills, trusts and deeds to real estate. These are the documents that will determine how your finances will be split in the settlement and they can sometimes be difficult to attain after your divorce process begins. Depending on the nature of your relationship with your spouse when you file for divorce, you might run the risk of your spouse wishing to conceal certain property or assets or making it more difficult and costly to gain access to information. In many cases, you might be well served to speak with a trusted professional (advisor, lawyer, accountant,CDFA) prior to filing for divorce so that you can get an idea of what you will need after filing.
Be part of the process. It is in your best interest not to let emotions get the better of you during divorce proceedings. If there are bad feelings or animosity, that is understandable, however, using your divorce settlement as a conduit for revenge, usually ends up hurting both parties financially (an emotionally). That said, it is important to be assertive in getting what you need and deserve for your future. Marriage is a partnership and you are entitled to your share of that partnership. Having the means to take care of yourself, prepare for the next chapter of your life, and maintain a comparable standard of living is not vengeful, it is necessary and important. Part of this requires having a healthy sense of control over the process, taking part in the negotiations and not being a passive observer of your divorce.
Everyone who comes to the end of a long marriage is met with their own unique set of challenges and opportunities. There is no how-to manual for divorce, or life in general. The best you can do is to carefully consider the impact that your divorce will have on every facet of your life and take the steps necessary to ensure that you make wise decisions throughout the process. Speaking to a financial advisor to help you get organized and see the big picture can provide you with the benefit of foresight and clarity.