Divorce after age 50 looks quite a bit different from divorce at earlier stages of life. If you’re thinking about separating from your spouse at this point, you’ll want to get solid legal advice from a lawyer who understands the unique challenges that come with a late-in-life divorce. Some of these challenges include:
- Retirement planning
- Spousal support
- Going back to work after retirement
- Going to work for the first time
According to a PEW research study, the number of late-in-life divorces in the US has doubled in the past 25 years. Experts say the reasons for this include the fact that people are living longer as well as their desire to live their lives more fully, especially after the kids are grown and out of the house.
Before you make the final decision about divorce later in life, there’s a lot you need to consider.
1. Get a Handle on Your Finances
In order to thrive after a grey divorce (and not just survive), you need to get a firm grasp on your entire financial situation. This can be intimidating if you haven’t been the one who was in charge of the family finances during your marriage. If this is the case for you, it’s a good idea to hire a financial planner who can help you figure out all the details. Your lawyer can often recommend someone to help you with this.
2. Learn How Property Is Divided
Division of property during a divorce is based on equalization, which means that each partner in a marriage is entitled to a share in any assets that were gained during the marriage. To determine equalization, start by calculating your net property. Add up your assets (house, savings, pensions, etc.) and subtract any debts as well as any gifts or inheritances that were kept separate from the family finances and still exist at the time of separation. Talk to your lawyer about how to calculate this and get an estimate of what you can reasonably expect from a judge.
3. Understand Spousal Support
Spousal support is not always applicable, but it’s more likely to come up in relationships of long duration or if there’s a significant income gap between spouses. For example, in a relationship that lasted 30 years in which one partner stayed home to raise children, spousal support would normally be due in the event of a divorce. Even if the relationship was common law, spousal support may still apply.
4. Be Prepared to Share Your Pension
One of the biggest issues in a grey divorce is your pension – which your spouse may be partially entitled to, since it’s most likely an asset that was gained during your marriage. Sometimes this is paid out as a lump sum, and other times it is split from the source fund and paid out directly to your spouse. CPP credit splitting can be applicable even if your spouse did not pay into CPP.
5. Consider Selling the Family Home
This seems like a radical step and you may be resistant to the idea of selling your house. In many cases, however, holding on to the family home with the reduced cash flow that comes with divorce doesn’t work out. Talk to your financial planner and determine what you can afford, and keep in mind that a new home may give you a fresh start and a new outlook on life.
6. Take Your Adult Children’s Finances into Consideration
In many gray divorce proceedings, adult children are still a factor to consider, especially if they are still in school and are receiving financial support from you. Separating your finances may mean that financially supporting your children won’t be feasible anymore. In that case, it’s time to make some hard decisions on how to handle that situation.
7. Update Your Will and Insurance Policies
This step is often overlooked when a couple separates. If you still want your ex-spouse to be the primary beneficiary of your estate, then things are probably fine as they are – but down the road you may start a new relationship and your wishes might change. Make sure all of your will and life insurance policies are up to date and in accordance with your current situation.
8. Draw Up a Prenuptial Agreement Before You Remarry
We all believe that our feelings for a new partner will never change – but, as you’ve experienced before at this point, sometimes they do. Have a frank discussion with your new partner about what should happen in the event that your relationship ends. Make sure to provide for your children by being very specific about how your assets should be divided.
Talk to Galbraith Family Law for Advice on Late-in-Life Divorce
A divorce seems like an ending, but look at it instead as a new beginning. Many people go on to find a new version of themselves and enjoy living life on their own. If you think it’s time to take that step, call Galbraith Family Law in Newmarket at (289) 802-2433 or in Barrie at (705) 302-1102. You can also send a message through our website.