Late-in-Life Divorce Raises Special Issues

Posted on by in Family Law
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The rate of divorce among older Americans is growing. Currently one in four people over the age of 50 get divorced, a rate that has doubled in the past 20 years, the Journal of Gerontology reports.

Reasons include:

  • People over age 50 are more likely to have divorced already and to be in a second or later marriage. Statistics show that second, third, and later marriages have a much higher rate of divorce.
  • Many couples with marital problems choose to stay together until their children are grown, resulting in divorce once they are empty-nesters.
  • Some couples find that once their children leave home, their relationship changes. A marriage that was centered on children and family life may not adapt to a different lifestyle. The spouses develop different interests and goals and can’t find a way to mesh them. Switching from family life to couplehood can be a dramatic shift that some marriages are unable to make.
  • Life expectancies continue to increase, so people are married longer with more opportunity to divorce in their later years.

Divorce after 50 can be challenging if you thought you were going to spend your entire life together. Suddenly, you are planning for a single future— one that may be very different from what you had envisioned for yourself.

There are many factors you need to think about when you divorce at this stage of life:

Living expenses and budget. Your marital budget allowed you both to live in your current home. But now that your income has likely been cut in half, it may be necessary to find a new place to live that is within your new budget. Moving can be stressful at any age, but it can be particularly hard to leave a home where you raised children together.

Alimony may be a factor in your divorce, so you should consult with your family-law attorney about how much it may be so you can budget accordingly.

Retirement planning.You may need to meet with a financial advisor and carefully rethink your retirement needs and goals. You and your spouse may once have planned to live together off your joint retirement income. Things are different now. You may still be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s retirement account or pension, as well as his or her Social Security.

Senior living and Insurance Needs. Now that you will be living alone, it is time to think carefully about how you will meet your needs as you age. You should consider how you will obtain and afford the assistance you may need, including long-term care. You will need to determine if you will remain eligible for insurance post divorce if your spouse carries you on his/her insurance. If you are no longer eligible post divorce for insurance through your spouse, you will need to investigate what options you have and the expense.

Remaining healthy. Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle will help you move past your divorce. Senior women tend to recover more successfully from a divorce later in life than men because they have social support networks in place. Continuing to be socially active is an important part of healthy aging.