For couples who have been married or in de facto for a majority of their adult life, divorce can be a difficult process to navigate. The following article by Tania Brown looks at how the over 50 can circumnavigate and survive this process.
By Tania Brown, Forbes Sept 26, 2016
I was recently talking to a dear friend in her 50s whose husband recently announced that he wanted a divorce. As I talked to her, she reflected not only on the 30+ years of marriage that was coming to an end but also the end of her identity as she knows it. She had been a stay-at-home wife and mother for the last 20 years. It was slowing sinking in that this was not only a redefinition of her status from married to divorced, but her status from working in the home to working outside the home.
About 25% of people who divorce are over 50. In fact, this is becoming so common that it has been coined the “Silver or Gray Divorce.” Although this can be initially emotionally and financially devastating, you can still survive and even thrive after getting divorced at 50. As a financial planner, I have had the privilege of offering financial guidance to many facing divorce in their 50s and I have found the following factors to be key in surviving and ultimately thriving after a divorce.
The person you are married to is not the same person that you are divorcing. The #1 thing I heard from every person I spoke to was that they were blindsided in the beginning with their divorce. They wrongly assumed that the person who took care of them during the marriage was going to apply the same love and care in the divorce. Oftentimes, they had to prove the financial contributions they made to the household despite not working, such as taking care of the finances and caring for their home and children so that their spouse was free to earn a living. They wish they had emotionally and legally prepared themselves for the battle ahead. If you face divorce, find a divorce attorney and support group that can help you navigate through the legal and emotional tides ahead.
Prioritize your long term financial security above all else.Many times, the primary caregiver chooses to keep the family house for the sake of the children so they take the home equity in lieu of liquid retirement assets or refinance the house and buy out their ex-spouse, which leaves them with a larger mortgage payment or a longer term. It is certainly understandable that you want to minimize the upheaval for the kids, but all houses need maintenance and are illiquid so if an emergency occurs or housing values fall in your area, you may be stuck with a money pit instead of an asset. Instead, consider selling the marital house and downsizing to a smaller place that you can afford comfortably. The children will adapt.
Do not sign the divorce paperwork until 100% of the finances have appropriately divided. Some of the women I spoke to assumed that their husbands would uphold their agreement to provide additional support or pay on joint debt. Unfortunately, in both cases, it did not happen, and they were left scrambling to support themselves with blemishes on their credit. Even if the court documents order your spouse to pay items held jointly, the creditors can still come after you if your spouse skips payments so get everything promised in the divorce decree and all joint credit separated, if possible. Also, make sure any retirement assets due you via a QDRO are actually transferred into your name.
Should you have any questions about any of these matters you please contact our team at Resolve Conflict Lawyers.