“Gray divorce” is defined as divorce among older couples, typically over 50 years of age and have been married for several decades. It is a relatively recent trend caused by various factors, such as the increase life expectancy, a growth in financial independence among older women, and the changing cultural norms.
There are many unique issues which couples involved in gray divorces must address. Since these couples are close to retirement age, it is imperative that they have a complete understanding of their finances.
The following are tips for older couples thinking about divorce:
- Collect your financial records. Gather records of your bank accounts, financial statements, tax returns, pension plans, retirement accounts, 401ks, IRAs, and other assets. Your attorney and financial experts must evaluate all of the marital assets and determine how each of them should be divided equitably during the divorce process.
- Plan for financial security. Since gray divorce couples often near retirement age, ensure that you plan for long-term stability by getting a life insurance policy, planning for Social Security income, developing realistic budgets, and monitoring spending. If you were a stay at home spouse throughout most of the marriage, do not hesitate to request spousal support.
- Sell the family home. You may want to keep the house, but can you afford the payments? What about the property tax? Repairs and other maintenance? Discuss your options with a financial expert and lawyer if it is wise to liquidate your home or keep it.
- Change your beneficiaries. Remember to change beneficiaries in your will or other estate planning documents once the divorce is finalized. If your spouse is still listed, he or she will receive your assets in the event of your death.