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Gray divorce: What older couples should know when filing

When the children have reached adulthood and moved out on their own to pursue their dreams, many older couples in Norfolk County realize that they have simply grown apart over the years. Perhaps they have found different interests or one spouse is preparing for retirement while the other spouse is planning to pursue a new career. With an empty house, they decide that divorce is the right choice for them.

The trend of gray divorce

According to a study released earlier this year, the rate of older couples filing for divorce is increasing. The study, conducted by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, says that between the years of 1990 and 2010, the number of divorces for people over the age of 50 has doubled. The study terms this growth trend as 'gray divorce' and indicates that over the next 20 years, the numbers of divorcing older couples will continue to rise.

While reasons for this trend are not fully known, there are plenty of theories. One theory is that with divorce becoming more acceptable in society, couples no longer feel pressure to stay together. Another theory is that women have become more independent due to women's rights movements in the 1960s and, as a result, women are taking more control of their personal lives. For whatever reason that a couple is deciding to divorce, there are some things that they should be aware of.

Divorce and retirement

Divorcing at an older age is going to have an impact on a couple's retirement plans according to USA Today. This only makes sense, since a single retirement plan will now have to pay for two individual retirement lifestyles. Some estimate that retirement costs for a divorced couple will increase by at least 30 percent more. If both spouses are intending to retire, they should think about the following:

  • Making a retirement plan as part of the divorce settlement
  • Sell the family home and purchase something smaller and less expensive
  • Avoid giving money to adult children
  • Cut extra expenses like dining out, travel and purchasing luxury items
  • Working longer than planned
  • Try to keep legal costs down

One way that couples that can avoid retirement problems is to meet with a financial expert who can help each spouse understand what their budget should be and how they can still plan for retirement as single adults.

Planning for future health issues

As people age, it is not uncommon for them to start developing health conditions such as diabetes, clogged arteries, arthritis and mobility problems. An older couple that is divorcing should understand that they will be facing such issues essentially on their own, but there are things that they can do to prepare for the future.

If one spouse has spent the majority of the marriage taking care of the home and children, they may not have a lot of resources so they should try to negotiate for the other spouse to have a long-term care insurance or disability insurance. The spouse who is to be the beneficiary should also request that they be the holder of the policy to ensure that they are not removed by the ex-spouse. Another item to consider is life insurance, especially if one spouse is going to receive spousal support.

When older couples are planning to divorce, spouses should meet with an experienced attorney to learn about the process and what their rights are.

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