According to recent statistics, approximately 25% of U.S. divorces involve couples over the age of 50. The incidence of what has become known as “gray divorce” has risen drastically over the past decade, but there are ways you can survive — and even thrive — if you keep these tips in mind:
Prepare emotionally and legally.
Even if you have been married for decades, do not expect that you will be treated with the same care you experienced during your marriage by the person you are divorcing. Divorce is always challenging, so be sure you find a good divorce attorney who can help you advocate for your rights.
Prioritize long-term financial security.
If you are in your 50s, most of your highest earning years are behind you, so you need to focus on getting your long-term financial needs met. Don’t make decisions emotionally; think practically. Don’t saddle yourself with extra debt like buying out an ex-spouse because you want to keep the house.
Get financial obligations taken care of before you sign the final divorce settlement.
If you are splitting retirement assets, make sure there is a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) in place and that the assets are actually transferred into your name before you sign off on your final divorce paperwork. Also, if your ex-spouse has been ordered by the court to pay off jointly held debts, be sure that’s done too or you could find creditors coming after you.
Adjust your lifestyle to maximize your 401(k) plan.
Since you have a shorter time before retirement, it is important that you make saving for retirement a priority. This may mean you need to relocate to a place where the cost of living is lower or adjust your lifestyle in order to beef up your 401(k).
Work your network.
Even if you spent most of your married life at home raising the kids, you likely have an expansive network — contacts you know through your kids’ activities or volunteering — that you can take advantage of when looking for employment.
Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne understands the nuances and complexities of family law, and we are here to help guide you through the process.