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Preparing For Gray Divorce


Older Americans have seen climbing divorce rates since the early 90’s, with rates doubling for those over 55, and tripling for those over 65.  If you are an older American who is considering a split, it’s important to have a complete understanding of what the financial implications may be. While you can no doubt manage life without your spouse, it’s best to move forward with a clear vision of the future.

Standard of Living 

A split necessarily results in a decline in wealth for both partners. Studies show that men characteristically experience a decline in their standard of living of roughly 20 percent, while the standard of living for women plummets by a whopping 45 percent.

Retirement Plans May Change 

Those who are required to divvy up retirement accounts may be forced to delay actual retirement. That nest egg—originally intended to provide a cushy lifestyle post-retirement—may now have to be used as a down payment on a new home, legal bills, or even health insurance. Meanwhile, the need to increase payments into retirement savings accounts will be greater than ever in order to build it back up. Buffing up those accounts will give you more flexibility down the road.

Returning to Work 

Partners who have spent years at home raising a family may cringe at the mere thought of entering the workforce. But such a change may be necessary, even after homemakers downsize and reduce their spending.

Is the Family Home Worth Fighting For? 

Whoever walks away with the marital home will likely also inherit the taxes, mortgage, insurance, and maintenance. Is that something that is appealing or something you’d like to walk away from? Remember, refinancing would likely result in a much higher interest rate. Selling, on the other hand, could mean a loss of equity if the market is in a slump.

Other Expenses 

Will insurance be a new cost that was previously taken care of by your spouse? What about transportation costs? On another note, something that often gets overlooked is time.  If there are still children at home, figuring out a family sharing arrangement will impact your times, and you will have to take care of the nutritional, educational, and social demands of your kids when they’re with you with no help from a spouse. Lastly, the social costs can be acutely painful to couples who have shared friends or regular outings with other couples.  Who gets to keep the friends in a divorce? Who, if anyone, will continue the weekend outings with other couples who have been in your circle for years?

Your Ex May Still be in Your Life 

If the costs of divorce seem worthwhile balanced against the notion of never having to interact with them again, remember that if you have shared children, your ex will likely never truly be out of your life.  Even if the days of shared custody are long behind you, older children will probably want to maintain a connection with both parents.  That means you’ll be interacting at weddings, graduations, and maybe even holidays. At some point you may be sharing grandchildren and their soccer games, piano recitals, and other milestones.

It Can be Complicated 

Gray divorce has some complexity that can seem frightening. But if you are considering a split later in life, it can be done.  It’s up to you to take care of yourself and your kids, to be assertive yet composed, and to create the life you want. At The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes, our experienced divorce attorneys are prepared to fight for the best possible outcomes for you. Schedule a confidential consultation in our Springfield office today.



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