Divorce rates for people over 50 doubled between 1990 and 2010, and the trend seems to be continuing. Family law experts suggest seven things you should bear in mind, especially if yours has been a long-term marriage.
DIVORCE AFTER 55: UPDATE
1. Alimony is almost always granted after a long-term marriage.
Alimony agreements vary from state to state, but older couples dissolving a long-term marriage can count on it being an important part of their divorce settlement. In New York, for example, the court will usually grant alimony for life.
2. Expect your retirement money to be cut in half.
No matter who is at fault for the divorce, retirement funds and other assets will probably be split in half. (Note: If your partner offers more of his pension to escape paying alimony, you’ll have to decide if it is best for you to trade tax-favored investments for potentially taxable income.)
3. Keeping the house may not be a good decision.
Some women may want to hold on to their long-time home, but that’s probably not financially wise these days when courts usually split assets evenly. Houses are expensive to own—considering property taxes, maintenance costs, etc. Plus, if you do get the house, you’ll likely be giving up a greater share of a pension, or settling for a smaller alimony obligation.
4. Your children or elderly parents may become a financial concern.
These days, many parents give some financial support to adult children, but this is not usually written into a divorce agreement unless the child has a disability or is in school, nor is helping to support elderly parents. Some divorcees can end up having to make painful decisions about family financial commitments.
5. Be civil with your ex, but don’t share personal plans or information.
Sharing future plans or information about desired assets or possessions might give your ex unnecessary negotiating power during divorce proceedings.
6. Don’t start dating before your divorce is final.
It’s important not to become socially isolated during your divorce, but it’s usually best to avoid dating until your divorce is final. For one thing, it can upset even adult children; for another, it can upset and anger your ex—adding time and costs to the proceedings.
7. Seriously consider getting a prenuptial agreement if you decide to remarry.
Remarriages are statistically more apt to end in divorce than first marriages. Without a prenup, a second divorce can reduce already split retirement savings even further.
For more information:
• money.usnews.com - divorce during your senior years
• money.usnews.com - maximize social security with spousal benefits
• money.usnews.com - coping with a shrinking pension
• money.usnews.com - making your divorce more expensive
• asknelly.com - how late life divorce can affect your finances