Ending a marriage at any point can be difficult, but it may create special problems for both spouses if they divorce in later life. Now that more and more of us live longer and more active lives, Colorado residents included, divorce after age 50 is becoming more common as couples opt to leave marriages that simply are not working. In fact, the number of divorces between spouses in their 50s doubled between 1990 and 2010, with one in four divorces occurring between couples aged 50 and older.
So-called gray divorce can affect the lifestyle of both spouses. Instead of ending years of work, one or both may have to defer retirement and stay in the workforce longer than they had planned. Dividing retirement plans now, for example, is costly because plans originally intended to support a retired couple now must cover the needs of two individuals who are living separately.
Financial disaster following divorce can be avoided by sound planning that is primarily guided by the following ideas.
First, consult a financial adviser in addition to a lawyer. Work with both of them in order to arrive at a settlement that eases you into retirement. Divorcing before retirement planning can be a costly mistake.
Second, start saving again. You still have time, especially if you are in your 50s and choose to continue working.
Third, decide what type of lifestyle you can and wish to maintain. For instance, you can go back to work and add to your savings, cut your spending with the understanding that both of you will have smaller homes and have reduced expenses, or agree to leave your kids less money in your wills or estate plans.
One of the biggest challenges after divorce is simply moving on. While property division can be daunting, it does not have to financially hurt each spouse.
Source: USA Today, "Boomer divorce: A costly retirement roadblock," Rodney Brooks, Oct. 21, 2013