The increased rate of divorce among couples over the age of 50 has been well-documented. Research has pointed to many potential reasons for this rise, all of them legitimate. People are living longer and may feel emboldened to start a new chapter at any age. Partners can simply grow apart. Maybe a spouse made a mistake one too many times.
Whatever the case, if divorce is the right next step for you, then that’s the path you should follow. But in order to ensure this transition is as successful as possible, there are three key aspects of the separation you should keep in mind.
1. Untangling the assets
An integral part of the divorce process is property division, in which all marital property is split between the two separating spouses in an equitable manner. Just about everything you earned during the course of your legal relationship will have to be inventoried, valued and then discussed as part of property division negotiations.
For many married individuals in their 50s or beyond, this can amount to multiple decades’ worth of assets. These discussions do not have to be hostile, but they should be thorough and will likely take some time. Prepare accordingly.
2. Securing your financial future
A solid financial foundation is a must. That’s why retirement funds are often among the most-discussed assets during property division. In general, any retirement account earnings accrued during the marriage will be considered marital property, and must be accounted for when determining equitable property division. Determining their true value can be a complex undertaking.
The final decision – whether reached by you and your former partner independently or issued by a judge – can drastically impact how much money you thought you had stowed away for post-work years. And keep in mind you likely will not have many career years left to make up any losses (unless you want to work long into the future).
It’s important you remain cautious, diligent and thorough when discussing retirement accounts.
3. Ensuring health insurance
Health care can be one of the costliest expenses for an older adult. A divorce can abruptly change your insurance coverage, particularly for the spouse who was on the other’s plan. You may find yourself facing hefty monthly premiums that were not part of your initial financial calculations.
Make sure this cost is accounted for as you chart your financial future.