“At a time when divorce is becoming less common for younger adults, so-called ‘gray divorce’ is on the rise: Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s,” according to Pew Research Center. For the 65 and older crowd, “the divorce rate roughly tripled since 1990, “ Pew Research Center reported.
If you’re in your 50s or 60s and you’re considering a divorce, you have plenty of company. According to Evergreen State University Professor Stephanie Coontz, “If you are a healthy 65, you can expect a pretty healthy [next] 20 years...It seems more burdensome...to stay in a bad relationship, or even one that had gone stale.”
If you’re a Baby Boomer who’s about to get a divorce, here are some important things to consider:
1. Spousal support is common in long-term marriages. While spousal support is not automatic, it is commonly awarded in long-term marriages – marriages that lasted 10 or more years. So, if one or both of you are working, know that spousal support may play a role in your divorce.
2. You may have to split half of the retirement. If you and your spouse have amassed a nice retirement savings, you’ll likely have to split that up evenly.
3. You may have to go back to work. Depending on your assets and your economic status, you may have to go back to work after the divorce.
4. You may be entitled to your former spouse’s Social Security benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, “If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record” even if he or she remarried providing certain criteria is met. To qualify, you must be unmarried, 62 or older, your former spouse must be entitled to retirement or disability benefits, and your former spouse’s benefit is more than yours would be.
5. You may need to sell the house. In a lot of long-term marriages, the spouses act as if the house is some “prized possession,” but that’s not always the case. If you want to keep the house, realize you’ll have to give someone else up in exchange. For example, you may receive less spousal support or your spouse may take a larger chunk of the retirement assets.
Before deciding to keep the house, make sure it has equity and make sure you can afford the mortgage, the maintenance, and the property taxes. Often, it makes more sense to sell the marital home and split the proceeds.