In the 1950s and 1960s, a divorce in one’s senior or Golden Years was almost unheard of, but today, it’s becoming more acceptable than ever before. If you’re a Baby Boomer or senior, you can probably rattle off a number of older couples who have divorced. If you live in a retirement community, it’s probably filled with divorced individuals and couples who are on their second and third marriages.
If you’re over the age of 55 and you’re considering a divorce, join the club. According to a study conducted by Susan L. Brown of Bowling Green State University, “The divorce rate among adults aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010. Roughly 1 in 4 divorces in 2010 occurred to persons aged 50 and older.”
If you’re approaching what’s been dubbed a “Gray Divorce,” here’s what you need to know about divorcing in your senior years:
1. Alimony is common in long-term marriages.
If you’ve been married for at least 10 years and one of you is still working, alimony or spousal support may play a role. In many cases, when a marriage was of long duration and one spouse still works, spousal support is awarded.
2. Your nest egg will probably be cut in half.
If most, if not all of your retirement savings was accumulated during the course of the marriage, be aware that it’s about to be cut in half. If you both have 401(k)s or IRAs and the balances are close, you may agree to keep your own accounts, but trade other assets so you come to a relatively fair settlement.
3. To keep the house, you’ll have to give something up.
You may be emotionally tied to the marital residence. Perhaps you raised your kids in it. Perhaps you remodeled it and now the mortgage is paid off. In any case, for you to keep this valuable asset, you’ll have to give your spouse something else of similar value, such as a greater share of the 401(k), a lower spousal support payment, or cash to make up the difference.
4. Your adult children may be affected.
Your children may be in their 30s or 40s, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be affected by the divorce. It isn’t uncommon for senior parents to help support their adult children or even let them move in with them. If you’re financially supporting your adult child, you may not be able to afford it after the divorce. Or, if your adult child’s family lives with you, they may have to find another place to live if you have to sell the marital residence in the divorce.
5. If you remarry, get a prenuptial agreement.
If you are to remarry in your senior years, be sure to get a prenuptial agreement the second time around. If you divorce your second spouse, you could be forced to divide your retirement savings again, or you could be ordered to pay spousal support. Also, if you have children from a previous marriage, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that your children receive certain assets instead of them going to your new husband or wife upon your death.