There is a trend occurring in our society where divorce as a whole is declining. However, people over the age of 50 are seeing an increase. Several years ago, there was a 1 in 10 chance of a person going through divorce being over age 50. Currently, it is a 1 in 4 chance.
“Why is this occurring?”, you might ask. Well, just for some examples, there is some truth to the notion of “staying together for the kids.” Some people stay married until their children are grown and then decide to separate. Self-improvement is another justification. Some people want to make a major life change to add some spark to their lives. And then there are all the reasons that apply to people of all ages.
Divorce at this age can be particularly dangerous on the financial front due to the cost of living being more for a single person versus a couple. This can hurt the retirement savings you have spent years investing in with less time to recoup losses, pay off debts and handle stock market fluctuations.
The financial concerns are magnified for women who, on average, see a greater decrease in income than men do by going from two incomes (in many households) to one income. Taking into account legal fees, possible medical (therapy) bills and then handling things individually that you once divided, it can drain your bank account in a hurry.
As with any divorce, no matter what age you are, it is an extremely difficult situation to endure. However, there are some specific things to consider before choosing to end a marriage at this age. First, make sure to know what your assets and liabilities are. Having an idea of your overall financial picture is good practice at any age. But specifically, as mentioned above, your retirement should be of optimal concern. If you don’t have a spouse to share the expenses in the latter part of life, you will need to make sure you have sufficient funds to live alone.
Second, consider your health insurance coverage, especially if you decide to divorce before Medicare is available at age 65. If you are currently covered under your spouse’s insurance, this coverage will end upon your divorce. Make sure to explore the options available under the Affordable Care Act or private health care coverage.
Finally, consider how your divorce will affect your adult children (if you have them) who will also experience changes to some extent. Divorce is never easy for a child of any age, but adult children may actually take this harder than younger children due to multiple factors of blame, trust and anger over why this is happening. Make it a point not to overshare with your adult children. Assure them that it isn’t their fault even if you remained married for their benefit. Encourage them to spend time with your soon-to-be ex-spouse despite not having a court-ordered custody arrangement to adhere to.
If you live or work in the central Pennsylvania area, including Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and surrounding communities and would like to discuss divorce or any other family law or estate planning/administration issue, please contact me.