When you married, you may have imagined growing old with your spouse, setting goals for the future and supporting one another through those difficult golden years. If those dreams recently came crashing to the ground and you are now heading for divorce, you have every right to be concerned, especially if you are age 50 or older.
Divorce that happens later in life is known as gray divorce. Unfortunately, couples older than 50 are the fastest growing demographic for divorce, with gray divorce rates more than doubling in the past decade. The reasons why are numerous and varied, but more importantly, the trend is leaving many older Arkansians struggling financially.
What should I do now?
Once you pass age 50, your financial needs change drastically. You may have more health concerns, fewer opportunities for earning money and worries that you may one day need long-term care. Perhaps you and your spouse planned for those things along with your retirement, and now you face the difficult task of splitting a lifetime of assets. Nevertheless, a gray divorce does not have to mean you will struggle financially for the rest of your life if you take certain precautions, including these:
- Learn all you can about your household finances, income, investments and debts, and gather as much documentation as you can about these items.
- Seek reliable advice from reputable resources for your financial and legal questions.
- Consider your needs for the future in the areas of taxes, estate planning, living arrangements and health care, and get help with building a plan.
- Negotiate with your former partner for a fair settlement that includes a generous portion of your assets and, potentially, spousal support.
- Be sure you understand which assets will benefit you most and which might leave you with costly tax ramifications and other setbacks.
- Explore new ways to increase your income, such as building on your education or learning new skills.
- Don’t overlook your emotional needs or neglect to reach out to those who can provide positive support during this difficult time.
Because of the unique circumstances in your situation, there are likely other factors you will want to address with knowledgeable professionals. While your impending divorce might seem like an unexpected detour, the road ahead can still be one of discovery and adventure. You have the chance to make a fresh start and try new things, and a fair divorce settlement may allow you to move forward with confidence.