It used to be no big deal to hear that a couple had been married 30 or 40 years. After spending decades in a marriage, you may have assumed you would live out your lives together. However, studies show that couples are no longer as willing to carry their wedding vows into their golden years. In fact, while the overall rate of divorce declines, the number of divorces among people over age 50 has doubled.
There is tremendous speculation about the reasons people your age are ending their marriages. Some attribute it to the fact that people are living longer, healthier lives. In your case, you are probably less concerned about the causes of your divorce than the effects.
Gray divorces are having a crushing effect on retirement plans. If you and your spouse have money saved, you are part of the lucky few. Nevertheless, the court is likely to divide between you and your spouse any money or assets accumulated throughout your marriage, making the plans you probably had for your later years close to impossible to consider.
Specific areas of concern
If you have anxieties about your future after the divorce, you are not alone. Many people facing gray divorces have serious concerns about their financial security. The most worrisome issues in a gray divorce include:
- Retirement money: In Colorado and other states, the court will equitably split pensions, IRAs and 401(k)s acquired during the marriage, making a considerable cut in one's nest egg.
- Health insurance: Many couples afford health insurance through one spouse's job. When the marriage ends, the other spouse will need to pay for coverage.
- Taxes: Your divorce may have important tax ramifications that will catch you off guard unless you are prepared.
- Alimony: If one spouse asks for support, it may mean the other will need to continue working longer than he or she intended.
Financial literacy may also be a concern of yours. If your spouse took care of the bills and the money throughout your marriage, you may be overwhelmed with the thought of handling those matters on your own. In many gray divorces, one spouse often has intimate knowledge of the finances and the other trusted that the bills were paid, never anticipating that the day would come when the task would be completely on his or her shoulders.
Having an advocate makes all the difference
Whether you and your spouse have substantial savings or have saved just enough to get by, a divorce can be a devastating blow that could leave you struggling for the rest of your life. Having someone to safeguard your best interests will be vital. Having legal counsel may reassure you that someone is protecting your rights and that you will receive your fair share of marital assets.
Your spouse may already have legal representation. That lawyer will not be working for your welfare. Obtaining your own advocate is the first step to establishing a secure future for yourself.