The number of people divorcing after 50 has doubled in the past 20 years. And those numbers are growing, while divorce rates of other age groups are falling.
Some researchers are calling it a “divorce revolution”. There’s even a term for it now: gray divorce. So if you’re among this growing group of older people who are contemplating or are in the midst of divorcing later in life, what unique considerations should you take into account?
- How will you divorce?
That may sound like a silly question, but it should be your first and perhaps your most important decision. All divorces begin with the decision to end the marriage and end with its legal dissolution, but there’s also a lot going on in-between. It’s in this period where the couple either creates opportunities for success or suffers the financial and emotional cost of the divorce process. If it’s possible in your situation, an amicable divorce process may save you money and reduce your stress. Mediators are available to help you and your spouse resolve divorce-related issues and facilitate the process.
- Consider your children, regardless of their ages.
When divorcing after 50, children are typically older, but don’t assume you can ignore them. You may choose to end your role as husband or wife, but your role as a parent doesn’t stop with the signing of the divorce decree. In fact, during this challenging emotional time, paying special attention to your children and their needs is particularly important. Handling your divorce process with your children in mind provides opportunities to share in their lives and will produce better outcomes for them and for you.
- Give extra thought to your finances.
For those divorcing later in life, finances are a greater concern than for those divorcing at younger ages. As couples shift from saving and accumulation to asset consumption, their risk tolerance and ability to recover from financial gaffes decreases. Pensions and Social Security become very significant elements of the gray divorce process. A simple financial statement won’t show the after-tax and retirement impact of how the division of assets may play out over time. Having a pre-divorce financial plan and a post-divorce financial plan for each spouse, showing not just the current value of assets and income, but also the future impact on retirement, are necessities.
- Take an advance look at the job market.
For older adults, particularly women who have been out of the workforce, re-entering it can be far more challenging than they expect. Consider getting advice from financial and career counselors so you can proactively develop long- and short-term plans post-divorce. Their professional guidance and input can be an immense help as you negotiate alimony and property settlements.
- Don’t be afraid to get in touch with your emotions.
When divorce occurs later in life, it’s likely that the marriage was longer than for those divorcing at younger ages. When you consider this change, what do you feel? Are you scared? Excited? The thought of divorce elicits a wide range of emotional responses. Understanding and working through those feelings will allow you to make better decisions during the divorce process and afterwards. Divorce is a very stressful and traumatic experience, especially if you’ve been married for 25 or 30 years. It can take time to adjust to being on your own. But in time, you’ll recover and will emerge stronger. With the right outlook and thoughtful preparation, divorce at any age can be transformative.
About FAI Wealth Management, Inc.: Located in Columbia, Maryland, FAI focuses on helping clients create the financial future they desire by protecting their wealth, making the most of their assets, and planning for life's uncertainties. The firm combines fee-only, fiduciary-driven guidance with highly personalized, consultative financial planning and investment services that enable individuals, families, and businesses to navigate complex life transitions. Founded in 1987, FAI currently manages more than $330 million in client assets nationwide. For more information about FAI Wealth Management, please visit the website at www.faiwealth.com or call 410.715.9200.