When a couple ends their marriage after age 50, it’s often called a “gray divorce.” While overall divorce rates have declined in the U.S. in recent decades, older people are getting divorced more than ever. The divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since the 1990s. For those aged 65 and older, divorces have tripled.
Getting divorced near or after retirement age usually looks very different than when a young couple splits up. Your children are likely grown, so child custody and child support will not be issues. But if you and your spouse have been together for decades, you may have amassed substantial wealth. Your retirement accounts, real estate, and other investments will probably all be considered marital assets under Kansas law. That means they are subject to equitable (fair) division between you and your spouse.
With retirement just around the corner, it is critical that you get a fair deal in your property division — or you might be stuck working for years longer than you originally planned. Here are four tips for ensuring you still get a decent retirement after your gray divorce.
- Consider if you really need to keep the family home. Remember, unless your ex agrees to share the costs, you will have to pay the mortgage, repair costs etc. on your income alone. For most people, this is too big of a burden, despite all the emotions and memories their house contains. Moving into a smaller home may be a more cost-saving option.
- Set a budget. Draw up a list of expenses and sources of income. If you are not currently working, will you need spousal support until you are prepared to get a job? Try to budget for at least the next several months.
- Acknowledge that your retirement will be different now. You and your ex once planned on spending your retirement years together. But now you probably will have to split up the retirement savings. This could mean your dream retirement of living in a beachfront house or travelling the world is no longer possible. But if you and your attorney negotiate a reasonable property settlement, you should still expect to enjoy your golden years in financial comfort.
- It’s natural to feel bitter, angry, upset or resentful toward your ex. But the longer your divorce takes, the more it will cost in legal fees. If possible, try mediation or another alternative dispute resolution method. These low-cost alternatives can save you money as well as stress and emotional trauma.
When it comes to retirement, different does not have to mean worse. You won’t be stuck in a bad marriage anymore. You’ll be free to enjoy your retirement on your own terms.