Today’s twenty-somethings have very different views about and attitudes toward marriage than their counterparts 30 years ago. Many individuals age 50 and older married and started families in their early twenties. After years spent struggling financially and raising children, some empty nesters come to realize they no longer have much or anything in common with a husband or wife.
Feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, a growing number of spouses age 50 and older are filing for divorce. While divorce at any age can be challenging, for so-called gray divorcees, divorce presents unique financial, familial and social challenges.
After 25 or more years of marriage, the prospect of suddenly being independent and responsible for one’s own finances, living arrangements and overall care can be daunting. For individuals nearing retirement, ensuring for one’s financial security is often a top priority. This is especially true for a wife who may have opted to stay home and raise children rather than pursue a career or a spouse who didn’t manage and has little knowledge about a couple’s finances.
In gray divorces, specifics related to retirement accounts, pensions and social security benefits must be thoroughly reviewed. Additionally, other potential assets including investments, brokerage accounts and possible hidden accounts must be discovered and thoroughly investigated. Mistakes or concessions made during the settlement negotiation process can negatively impact an individual’s ability to comfortably live out their retirement years.
Other matters that gray divorcees would be wise to consider revolve around current and long-term living arrangements. It’s very possible that a fifty-something recent divorcee may never have lived alone and for many the prospect of doing so can be a difficult adjustment both financially and emotionally. For those who do decide to live alone, it’s often important devise and to stick to a monthly budget. For others, moving in with a friends or grown child may be an easier and less costly option.
In addition to ensuring for one’s impending retirement years, recent divorcees in their 50s must also consider and plan for long-term care needs. Without a spouse, an individual must consider who will provide for their care as they age and have physical and cognitive impairments. Planning now can help ensure an individual has the financial resources and proper plans in order to avoid added stress and confusion in the future.
Source: Huffington Post, “Divorce After 30 Years of Marriage. Now What?,” Cheryl and Joe Dillon, Sep. 9, 2014