In the recent decades, a growing number of adults ages 50 and older have gone through divorce. According to a study by researchers from the Bowling Green State University, the number of divorce cases between older adults has doubled between 1990 and 2010.
Susan Brown, the researcher who led the study, notes that reasons for the rise in divorce rates include more women in the workforce, longer lifespans, higher rates of remarriage and changing notions about marriage.
Divorce is a very painful and stressful process, and it can be especially so for people who are older. There are challenges to “gray divorce” that are different from couples who split before their 50s. If you find yourself contemplating divorce at an older age, here are some tips you can follow to make the process easier.
1. Hire a team of professionals as needed
When you are planning for divorce, the first thing you should do is get a team assembled to guide you through the process. This team includes an attorney, financial planner, accountant, mediator and therapist. Your attorney can help you by recommending professionals for your specific needs. Many times, some of these resources are already available to you and they can work directly with your attorney. In a gray divorce, the role of the financial expert is particularly crucial. Having been married for so long, you have acquired multiple assets together as a couple. In addition, retirement finances can be tricky. A solid team will help you make more objective decisions in the midst of an emotionally trying time.
2. Think about your health
Healthcare can be very expensive – especially so in retirement. So if you are planning for divorce, you have to think about health insurance post-split. After your divorce, you won’t be eligible for your ex spouse’s employer plan. You can consider long-term care insurance that would cover the expenses needed for a stay in an assisted-living facility, or at-home care.
3. Rewrite the important papers
When you get a gray divorce, you have to update all of the important legal paperwork that you’ve set up during your marriage. These papers include your wills, estate plans, bank accounts, deeds and beneficiary designations for retirement accounts. If you fail to update your legal agreements, most states will invalidate your will. So don’t neglect the details and talk to your team of professionals to help you rewrite all the paperwork.
4. Decide where you want to live
One big factor in a split between older couples is who gets to keep the family home. It’s particularly hard because a family house is associated with decades of memories. It makes sense if you want to fight for it, but you could also consider alternatives like selling the home. What is important is that you have to be open to compromise and be creative about your future plans. This will ultimately help you moving forward.
If you want more information and legal assistance with regards to gray divorce, schedule a consultation with Lyttle Law Firm. You may call us at 512.215.5225 or visit out Austin office at 2222 Western Trails Boulevard.