While getting a divorce at any age can be one of the most challenging life changes you will ever face, when you decide to get a divorce at age 50 or older, the situation can be even more complicated and difficult. How will your older sons and daughters react? What will happen with your retirement accounts? What about health insurance? How will you be able to start over at such an older age? There are many issues to consider, and that is the main reason finding an experienced divorce attorney is critical to your success.
Distinct Differences When Divorcing After 50
While many of the usual issues considered during divorce are also relevant to a divorce late in life, there are some actions that need to be approached differently or with extra caution when you are 50 or older. Major differences to take into account when divorcing after 50 include:
Development of an Asset Inventory: In many cases, only one spouse will have a comprehensive understanding of the marital assets possessed by a married couple. For the fairest results during a divorce, both sides must have an in-depth knowledge of their assets. After all, by 50, you and your spouse have probably been accumulating property for many years. This includes life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and the house.
Understanding of the Retirement Accounts: As you approach retirement age, you are going to want to have all your finances sorted out in such a way that your golden years remain golden. While you will not have the retirement you planned with your spouse, and you might not get everything you were expecting during retirement after the divorce, there are ways to fairly divide the assets in retirement accounts. When dividing these assets, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) should be used to avoid any penalties or taxes that would come with withdrawal of funds before reaching retirement age.
Ensuring Health Insurance Coverage: At your age, having good health is particularly important, so you will need to make sure you have coverage. If you are not yet qualified for Medicare, your options may be limited to using COBRA to stay on your spouse’s insurance until you find other solutions, insurance through your current employer (if you have one), or insurance through the Healthcare Marketplace. If you would prefer to stay on your spouse’s insurance indefinitely, a legal separation might be a preferable option instead of divorce.
Attainment or Maintenance of a Life Insurance Policy: You and your spouse are both not getting any younger. It is just as important—if not more important—to get life insurance policies figured out upon divorce as it is while married, especially if one spouse will be paying spousal maintenance or child support. While term life insurance is not taken into account during divorce, permanent life insurance is counted as a marital asset and must be dealt with as such. In particular, if you or your spouse do not already have a permanent life insurance policy, you or your spouse might want to ask for one in divorce to protect the rights to alimony, child support, and retirement/pension benefits if a spouse dies. If either spouse already has a permanent life insurance policy with the other spouse as the beneficiary, you are free to change the beneficiary of the policy, unless ordered otherwise by the judge in your case.
Deciding What to Do With the House: If you are not an empty-nester yet, you may want to continue living in your marital home after your divorce. However, you will need to be prepared for the day when your children leave the home. If you have no children at home, you may want to consider what you will end up doing with the house. Upkeep at your age can be both taxing and expensive, and if your house is not paid off, you may struggle with mortgage payments, property taxes, and other expenses.
Be Prepared for the Job Market If Necessary: As you approach retirement, getting a job can become much more difficult. If being divorced will put you in a financial position that will require you to get back onto the job market, do not be surprised to hear that you are “overqualified” or other rejections that might be related to your age. Conversely, if you feel at a disadvantage due to your lack of training or education, you may want to ask for your spouse to contribute toward your professional development. If your spouse agrees to spousal support that will help pay for your tuition at a local school, for instance, then you will be able to receive the necessary training to start a new job. This will make it much easier for you to manage the finances for yourself without your spouse.
Contact a Wheaton Grey Divorce Attorney
As you can see, there are many unique challenges facing people who wish to get divorced after the age of 50; however, you do not have to face this difficult decision on your own. Our DuPage County divorce lawyers can help you every step of the way, no matter how complicated your divorce gets due to the late stage in your life. For a free consultation, reach out to us at 630-871-1002.