Divorcing after the age of 50

You probably had goals for the future — maybe you imagined taking a trip with your spouse, downsizing the house or taking ballroom dancing classes together. However, with just a few years left until retirement, your spouse blindsided you and asked for a divorce. You now face a future that is the polar opposite of your dreams.

You may feel completely alone, and it may bring little comfort to know that you are not the only one in Pennsylvania in this situation. In fact, although national divorce rates in other age groups are on the decline, researchers report the rates have doubled for divorces over the age of 50, so-called “gray divorces.”

Your financial stability after a gray divorce

Ideally, you and your spouse shared the responsibility for managing the household finances while you were married. This improves your ability to prepare well for what is coming. Better still, perhaps you had a separate checking account or a credit card in your own name. That financial independence will greatly benefit you after the divorce. Some other key areas to consider as you prepare for your life separate from your spouse include the following:

  • Retirement: If you spent years out of the work force — for example, staying home with children — you may have much less saved than your spouse.
  • Social Security: If you have been married at least 10 years, you may have a right to part of your spouse’s benefits.
  • Alimony: If your spouse agrees to pay support, you will also want a life insurance policy to cover those payments if your spouse should die.
  • Insurance: Health insurance and other types of insurance, such as disability, long-term care and property insurance, will be a critical part of divorce negotiations or a court order.

There may be other areas that affect your personal situation. Discussing these with your attorney will allow him or her to advocate for your needs during settlement.

Life is not over after divorce

While things may not continue exactly as you had planned, you can still have a bright future. It may be important for you to adjust your standard of living in several ways. For example, you may have to find work to supplement your alimony or other income. You may also need to modify your spending or downsize your living arrangements.

Adjusting to these major changes is becoming more common for people your age. However, your financial success in the future may depend a great deal on obtaining a fair divorce settlement that will allow you to move forward in your new life as positively as possible.