Arnold and Maria did it, Tipper and Al did it…. They got divorced after decades of marriage. It’s happening. The divorce rate for people between 55 and 64 doubled between 1990 and 2010. DOUBLED. And, it tripled for people 65 and over! (Bowling Green University Study)
The kids are gone, the house is quiet, the routines are the same, boredom sets in. We’re living longer - it’s hard to imagine staying longer than we want to. After all, we’re the Boomers – the Innovators. We’re independent - we have options. Divorce is a common phenomenon. If others do it, we can too.
As Boomers we are in our peak or just past our peak earning years. We’ve worked and struggled, saved and built for a lifetime together, working towards the day when we’d retire together. Now what we’ve saved for our together future becomes what we’ve saved for our separate futures and our assets get divided – our lifestyles must adjust.
The issues aren’t easy. Many Boomers who get divorced will wind up working much later in life than anticipated. Some may have to figure out how to afford health insurance until Medicare kicks in. Attorneys and advisors will get paid, cutting into assets. There is so much less time now to recover financially from losses taken in divorce. Additionally, women run a significant chance of becoming impoverished in their senior years due to lower earnings in their child-rearing years and an inability to save as much. If you’re granted spousal support but your ex dies or becomes disabled, you could be left with significantly less income. When assets are abundant, there are many decisions to be made with regard to who gets what and what the tax consequences will be. Then there’s the issue of getting the money from retirement and pension plans, which require paperwork that is literally as unique as each company that offers one.
Divorce is no fun but even for those who have been married for years, a “Gray Divorce” can still be an okay experience. Be sure to know your divorce options. Keep your financials and your emotions separate, let calm heads prevail. All of this will help you keep more of your money to fund your newly independent lifestyle.
Laura is a financial professional and former member of CFLA.