Many couples simply say they’ve grown apart. Others find that when they become empty-nesters, they take a hard look at the marriage and realize it’s not a happy one. Or, maybe, they’ve stayed together so long in an unhappy marriage so they can give those kids a good start in life. Whatever the reason, seniors get divorced. Here are 5 considerations if you are a senior thinking of divorce.
1. Your Life is going to Change. Some of your friends may no longer feel comfortable with you as a single person. They may not want to “choose” and that can mean they’ll see a lot less of both you and your ex. Some may take sides and that will be hard. You’re likely to have fewer resources and more responsibility. Take a look at every aspect of your life and know how you’re going to go forward in all areas – financially and socially.
2. You’re Going to Lose Retirement. In most instances retirement funds are considered joint property and will be split evenly. That’s true even if only one person has worked and, even, in most states that have “at fault” divorces. Your nest egg just got broken in half. How will that affect the rest of your life? If you’re trying to reach agreement, be careful. Trading assets like your retirement fund for a portion of a current or future pension may not be the best move. You may be giving up tax-advantaged funds for taxable income.
3. Who Gets the Family Home? First, it’s not a family home anymore and that may make it harder to have that big family Christmas. Even if you retain the home, you may be looking at empty rooms when your ex removes his or her furnishings or you split them. So, stop and think. The family home comes with maintenance, taxes and repairs. If you have to buy the other person’s half ownership or give up something else in the divorce to retain the house, know if it’s workable for your future financial situation and that you can handle the ongoing upkeep of the home.
4. You’ll Need a New Will and More. You are no longer a couple. You will need your own will. If your will includes trusts for a disabled child, address that future need. Be sure to change the beneficiaries on any financial accounts that may have your ex named. If one of you is providing insurance for the other, new insurance will have to be sought. You need good advice. Count on your divorce lawyer and if it’s complicated, see a financial advisor.
5. There ARE the Kids. Divorcing later in life may not bring up the hard issues of child custody and visitation, but it still is going to impact your family as you know it. Your children may find the divorce a hard transition and you may have to deal with their emotions. Don’t overshare. You may need to discuss some of your reasons to help them understand, but they don’t need to know every detail. Instead of trying to “win”, try to build a foundation so that the children – and the grandchildren – can still enjoy both you and your ex.
The financial implications of a senior divorce mean many hard decisions. Make sure you have an experienced divorce attorney at your side. You will need that advice to make sure every detail is addressed. You want to be fully informed of your rights and you want the legal help to make sure that nothing is overlooked. You’ve decided to change your life – let a divorce lawyer help you change if for the best.