If you have been following our blog, you are familiar with a developing trend in divorce: the gray divorce. This phrase refers to the dissolution of marriage in the over 50s sect. As a result of the Great Recession’s impact on family budgets, the divorce rate of couples under this age bracket has been on the decline over the past decade; the same trend does not hold true for those nearing the completion of their careers. According to a Bowling Green State University study, the rate of those aged 50 and older who filed for divorce doubled in the time period spanning 1990 to 2010.
We have discussed the psychology behind these delayed separations: a desire for a fresh start in retirement and an increasing dissatisfaction with the status quo were common reasons cited. For those considering breaking their marriage bonds, doing so after age 50 may seem to be an ideal time because it allows both partners to change their status and limit collateral impact on others. In spite of the lessened influence this life change may have on adult children, however, divorce at any age can be distressing and problematic.
Should you and your partner consider divorce, these are considerations to keep in mind before you file the paperwork:
1. Prepare for your finances to take a hit.
Ignoring fees assessed by divorce lawyers and family courts, divorce is an expensive proposition. Two-income families that sever ties double their expenses in utilities, rent, etc. Couples relying on one spouse’s income find themselves even more disadvantaged. This financial setback may take the shine off the gloss that a blank slate can provide for an individual seeking to establish a future unencumbered by another.
2. Alimony may still be factored into divorce agreement.
As we mentioned in our article on spousal maintenance, Colorado’s revised statutes on support guidelines follow a national trend in limiting alimony that is disbursed to a spouse. Responding to the rising number of women in the workforce, legislators have curbed payments to “end interdependent economic reliance as much as possible” and encourage economic independence. In spite of this shift in perspective, it is possible that those married over 20 years will see alimony payments entered into a divorce agreement. Such payouts recognize the tasks performed by stay-at-home moms or dads.
3. Sentiment may encourage you to fight for the house, but finances may encourage you to reconsider.
Viewing the family home as a touchstone for adult children is a pricey perspective to take. With a reduced income, the costs associated with a house’s upkeep and mortgage will subtract funds at a faster pace after divorce. The money spent maintaining a house that is probably too large for one person could be better utilized replenishing a retirement account. The sentiment attached to hosting holidays at the family home may encourage one spouse to seek ownership of the property; however, the long term financial benefits associated with downsizing after divorce should encourage the sale of the house.
Many seeking divorce will find that the psychological benefits divorce offers exceed the financial drawbacks attached to an economic independence. Those interested in separating from a long-time spouse are advised to seek the counsel of a knowledgeable divorce attorney to determine the best course of action to take.