It used to be that if you made it to 50 married, you could pretty much expect to spend the rest of your life with your spouse. Not so anymore; over-50s are the fastest-growing divorce demographic, with nearly 25 percent of “grey marriages” ending in divorce.
With children grown and on their own, unhappy spouses may feel they have less reason to stay coupled. And as people live longer and healthier lives, the prospect of staying in a grim or even so-so relationship for decades holds little appeal. In fact, typically, people who initiate these divorces say they want to make the most of life while they can.
Interestingly, it’s wives who initiate 2 out of 3 divorces over 50. Experts speculate that it’s not as much that wives are more unhappy than husbands. They think the men are just more inclined to avoid the dramatic changes that come with divorce; women seem more ready to rock the boat.
Splitting is never easy
Even though both spouses may not be that happy, the one who didn’t make the move is unlikely to be grateful!
Nor will kids—even if they’re grown and out of the house—applaud the change. Many will be angry with one or both of you for some time. You’re rocking their world and dividing their loyalties, for a start. Then there are the practical issues of managing which parent comes for Thanksgiving, and sharing or not sharing news of each parent with the other.
Over time, of course, most families manage to reorganize around the new realities, which eventually usually includes step parents. Just be prepared for the fact that grown kids aren’t likely to think of your new spouse as “Mom” or “Dad”. They’ll have a different, adult relationship that may be more fond than familial.
The economic consequences can be steep
Divorce is costly for any couple, whether the joint assets amount to thousands of dollars, or millions. For younger couples, the primary challenges are often focused on raising and educating children. For over-50s, there’s usually a significant adjustment—down—in standards of living, with less time to recover and rebuild assets.
One of the biggest issues: medical benefits. Even the healthiest of us begin to see medical expenses creep up with the decades. Managing health insurances (especially when one spouse’s employer has been covering both during the marriage) can become a complicated issue.
Getting expert advice can benefit both spouses financially
The fact is that in most states, assets will be divided pretty much equally between long-wed spouses, unless a prenuptial agreement is in place.
Still, pensions, retirement accounts, insurances and Social Security also become part of the division of assets. Since these can all be complicated and technical, it’s worth getting advice from experts about the best way to divide such assets to minimize tax burdens and maximize payments, before plowing forward.
We’re here to help
If you are over 50 and considering divorce, or in the middle of a divorce, please get in touch and let us help you make the smartest financial decisions for the smoothest transition.