Divorces among those at or near the age of retirement have become more common. People now refer to them as great divorces, and they definitely have different legal and practical implications than divorces that occur earlier in life.
The longer a marriage lasts, the more intertwined the financial and personal lives of the spouses will become. Before you file for a gray divorce or responded to your spouse’s filing, there are certain things that you need to know.
- Dependent spouses have the right to claim certain benefits
Older couples often have a more unequal division of financial versus household responsibilities. If one spouse did most of the earning while the other raised the children and cared for the family home, the dependent spouse is at a significant disadvantage when it comes to financial stability after a divorce.
They may not have any accounts in their own name or recent job history, meaning they might only be able to work a minimum wage job. If one spouse stayed home to support the family, they may have a claim to employer-sponsored retirement benefits, pensions, military benefits and even Social Security retirement benefits.
- Splitting your property and take more work after a long marriage
One of the most difficult parts of getting divorces trying to figure out how to split your property. Couples who have only stayed married for a few years will typically only have to worry about the division of assets and income earned during their marriage.
If your marriage lasted for decades, almost everything you own may be marital property. You have to brace yourself for a complicated process that will likely involve revisiting not just ownership but also the value of major assets like your home.
- Your retirement plans may have to change with your marital status
Divorce doesn’t just mean more freedom to pursue your passions during retirement. It also means splitting those retirement savings with someone else.
Instead of having decades to prepare and a spouse to share costs and household responsibilities with, you will now have more costs to maintain your independent household without the financial and practical support of your spouse. Some people realize that divorce means they will need to go back to work part-time. Others may need to look into shared living arrangements with family or other compromises.
As long as you are realistic about your expectations, gray divorce can set you up for a happier future after years of a stressful and unfulfilling marriage.