Marriages are meant to last until death do you part, but the truth is that divorce can happen at any time. It can happen five, 10, 20, 30, or even 40 or more years down the road.
The longer you wait to divorce, though, the harder it gets. Many couples in their 50s and beyond are getting divorced. These are called gray divorces and their rates are growing. That’s because people are living longer. They want to enjoy life and not sit around at home with a person they can’t stand to be around anymore.
A gray divorce may seem easier in some ways. You’re waiting until the kids are grown and moved out of the house. You likely have more assets to split by then.
As you near retirement age, though, there are concerns about money. You’ll have to split up everything. Will you have enough to retire? Will you have to keep working for a while?
There are a lot of things to think about as you deal with a divorce later in life. There are money issues. There are relationship issues. You still need to think about the future, as you could possibly live 20-30 more years or even more! So don’t throw in the towel just yet. Here are some tips for surviving a gray divorce.
Don’t Forget About Your Children
Many couples wait until their children are adults to get a divorce, as they assume their kids won’t be affected as much. Sure, there will be no child support or child custody issues to deal with, so it’s easier for the parents. And children won’t be shuffled from one house to another, so there is that.
However, that doesn’t mean that adult children don’t care and won’t mourn their parents’ divorce. Dealing with your parents divorcing can be heartbreaking, even if you are in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. It can be a stressful situation in many ways. The kids may be in college and depending on their parents for financial support. Or maybe they have kids of their own and have to explain why Grandma and Grandpa got divorced. Sometimes adult children get stressed out because they feel as though they have to care for both parents separately, since Mom and Dad don’t have anyone to take care of them.
In any case, be mindful that even though you may be happy about the divorce, your children may feel otherwise. Allow them to process their emotions and never force them to choose sides. Give them permission to have relationships with both parents.
Be Prepared to Adjust Your Lifestyle
In a divorce, you are splitting one household into two. This means there is less money to go around, so you will likely have to cut back. This is especially true if you are not working and have little savings.
Older women are especially vulnerable in a divorce, as they tend to earn less than men over the course of their careers. By the time they divorce, they may have very little in retirement funds. As a result, women are most likely to experience poverty in their later years.
Based on these statistics, you need to be prepared to adjust your lifestyle after a divorce. You may need to make a list of all your expenses and cut back on non-essentials. You may need to downsize. Never try to stretch yourself too thin financially. Avoid too much debt because it will be harder to pay it back as you get older.
Don’t Depend on Alimony
Many financially dependent spouses think that they will get lifetime financial support because they were married for decades. However, the length of your marriage is not the only factor in alimony cases. The main factor is that your ex-spouse will have to be able to afford to give it to you. This means that they will have to keep working. Once they reach retirement age, they may quit working. This means you will be out of luck financially because the courts are reluctant to order parties in a divorce to work past retirement years solely to pay alimony.
What this means is that spouses in gray divorces should not depend on alimony for the rest of their lives. They will need to find ways to earn their own income. This may include getting a job, investing in stocks or other investments, and drawing Social Security benefits. Keep in mind that you qualify for your ex-spouse’s benefits if you have been married for at least 10 years and divorced for two years. However, if you have also earned benefits, then keep in mind that the Social Security Administration will pay the larger of the two amounts – not both.
Consider Getting a Job
If you are already working, then a divorce late in life may force you to work a few years longer so you can save up enough money. If you’re not working, though, then you may have to go into the workforce for a while to make ends meet. Even if you are already in retirement, you may have to postpone things for a while unless you can truly get by without one. Again, you have to consider that you could be living a few more decades and you can’t necessarily rely on alimony or other benefits from your spouse. So consider a job – even a part-time one can be helpful. You can earn money, meet people, and feel useful as you get older. Many older people still work into their 70s and 80s, so don’t feel alone.
Contact Us Today
Divorces are complex. Gray divorces are even more complex because they tend to happen near retirement.
The Ohio divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office can help you with the financial, legal, and emotional issues you will face. Schedule a consultation today by filling out the online form or calling (614) 228-3664.