Divorce after age 50 can be quite different than divorce earlier in life. It isn’t just that the children may be grown, making custody and parenting time decisions moot. It’s the fact that, with retirement on the not-that-distant horizon, money issues may take on heightened importance for both you and your ex.
If one spouse has a substantial pension, 401(k) or retirement account and the other does not, it may be necessary to make arrangements as part of the property settlement to divide up the account. A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is one way of doing this.
What other planning considerations should be addressed in a “gray divorce?”
Well, for one thing, it’s important to recognize that women generally live longer than men. This means that a divorced woman will likely need to factor in a longer time horizon when making financial decisions.
Women also are often paid less than men. For women over 50 whose ability to develop new job skills is limited, this too is a significant factor that can affect a divorce settlement.
Regardless of whether a court awards alimony (spousal maintenance) to such a spouse, it’s important to be realistic about how much money will be needed after the divorce. Running out of money is a legitimate fear, so it’s best to face it now.
Similarly, maintaining health insurance coverage is sometimes an issue after a divorce. If one spouse has been covered as a dependent on the other’s insurance through work, you’ll need to come up with an alternative arrangement. Eventually, the federal Affordable Care Act is supposed to make this easier, but it’s still an issue for many people.
Source: “How Single Women Can Thrive in Retirement,” Huffington Post / U.S. News & World Report,” Daniel Bortz, 11-11-12
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Rockford divorce page.