The number of people over 50 who have decided to get divorced has skyrocketed. Known more commonly as “gray divorce”, the 50-and-over demographic is now more than twice as likely to get divorced as they were only two decades ago. But it doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 88; divorce takes a toll on everyone involved. Going through a divorce can mean disrupting the personal lives of your friends and family, facing legal or financial turmoil, and generally upturning your life in a way that’s critical to think about before making that fateful decision to split up.
It’s not uncommon for long-lasting marriages that come to an end to result in more than a few shattered friendships. In many cases, men tend to lose their shared friends disproportionately often compared to their wives, especially if their spouse had initially brokered those friendships. Regardless of how you met, friends you’ve shared with your spouse may be put in an awkward and difficult position by your divorce. Losing those friendships can significantly add to the emotional pain of what it means to be divorced.
Seniors on a fixed income may find it difficult to adjust and recover from the financial shock of a divorce. Make an honest assessment of what your standard of living will be after your separation, This is especially true for divorces that occur later in life. Gray divorces tend to involve more assets that need to be sorted out, including pensions, Social Security, 401k, and IRAs. You’ll need to completely reevaluate what your retirement portfolio looks like without your spouse, how your life insurance will be affected, how you’ll handle joint property and debts, and of course, reconsider your estate planning.
Think of the Children
Your children don’t have to be teenagers to be affected by divorce. The adult children of older couples may find their family fragmented, requiring them to think about where they’ll be spending the holidays, who gets to see the grandchildren, and how to split their finite time between their parents. This is particularly true for divorces that aren’t amicable enough for family gatherings to be an option.
Moreover, if you took a wedding vow of “in sickness and in health,” it’s worth thinking about if you’ll have someone to care for you as you continue to age. As we endure the declines in our health brought on by old age, we can usually rely on our spouse to help care for us. In their absence, you’ll have to start thinking about new arrangements.
Sometimes Divorce Works
Divorce after 50 can be an emotional process filled with anger, pain, frustration, and financial hardship. Nevertheless, sometimes divorce is your best option. Only by carefully considering the full ramifications of your divorce will you be prepared to deal with all the legal and financial issues that may result from your decision. Getting divorced is easy, but as you’ve seen, being divorced can be another matter altogether.
Do you know any seniors who have taken the plunge to get divorced? What were their reasons for divorcing? How are they enjoying life on the other side of marriage? We’d love to hear more!