The overall divorce rate has trended down in recent decades. The notable exception is couples who are 55 years old and up, whose numbers continue to increase. This phenomenon is generally known as “grey divorce.” Because of the spouses’ age, some unique challenges need addressing when negotiating a divorce agreement.
Younger couples typically are most worried about custody, child support and dividing the assets. With children usually out of the house, older couples’ biggest concerns often financial as they move into their golden years. There are several reasons for this:
- One or both spouses may be at the height of their earning power after long careers, but that may end soon if they don’t own their business.
- One or both spouses will likely retire within the next ten years if they haven’t already.
- Retirement plans often involve a significant portion of their assets, and much of the planning likely was based on the couple being married.
- Pending retirement leaves a shorter period to meet retirement savings goals.
- One spouse may not have worked outside the house in decades, leaving them with fewer job opportunities if they need to return to work.
Common mistakes to avoid
Each marriage is unique, but common mistakes in addressing the above issues can leave an unnecessary dent in savings when the spouses can least afford it. Couples can weigh the merits of keeping or selling a family home, which may be expensive and time-consuming to maintain even if paid for. Those who disperse their retirement accounts like 401(k) or IRAs early may also pay penalties.
Attorneys can address these issues
A knowledgeable and experienced divorce lawyer can help clients get a fair and equitable agreement, often involving creative solutions to complex financial questions. Hiring them early in the process can help ensure that plans have the best chance for success.