Whether their marriage lasted for decades or just a few years, senior couples are not immune from divorce proceedings. After all, according to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for those over 50 is nearly twice what it was in 1990. Family law attorneys regularly refer to these types of marital dissolutions as “gray divorce.”
Divorce is not easy at any age. Still, if you plan to dissolve a marriage later in life, you must address certain issues. While every divorce is different, the following four issues are common with older couples:
1. Social Security
Social Security in the United States is not exactly simple. If you go through a divorce and qualify for Social Security benefits, you have some decisions to make. Will you exclusively receive your own Social Security payments? Will you rely on your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s benefits? Because Social Security eligibility depends on a careful legal and financial analysis, you may want to schedule a meeting with a financial planner and attorney before you decide to end your marriage.
2. Spousal support
If both you and your partner have retired, neither of you may be able to pay much in spousal support. Nevertheless, you may not be able to provide for yourself without some assistance from your husband or wife. Alternatively, if you and your spouse have acquired significant retirement funds, pensions, stocks or other assets, you may need to work diligently to receive your fair share after your divorce.
3. Life insurance
Paying spousal support may be part of your divorce settlement. If it is, you may need to purchase life insurance to be sure you comply with your obligations. On the other hand, you or your spouse may have a life insurance policy that has a monetary value. If that is the case, you may need to negotiate ownership that complies with the terms of your coverage.
4. Marital property
Finally, if your marriage is long-term, you may have a tricky time dividing marital property. That is, you may have items that have either significant monetary or sentimental value. You may also have property you think you own separately. Either way, you may be in for a big argument over who owns what.
Even though going through a divorce later in life can be challenging, it may be an effective strategy for finding happiness. While you likely should not let the complications of a gray divorce dissuade you from doing what is right for you, you also must recognize the unique obstacles to dissolving your marriage.