Divorce is typically a stressful experience. Former partners may fight with one another over everything from child custody to who will stay in the home they once shared. When older adults divorce, the situation can become even more fraught.
Gray divorces involving those close to or past the age of retirement who have stayed married for decades are often different from divorces involving younger couples. What makes divorce later in life more challenging?
The proximity of retirement
If you divorce in your 30s or 40s, you still have a couple of decades to prepare for retirement. You can save enough to offset what you lose by dividing your retirement fund with your spouse. When you divorce right before you retire or after retirement, the financial impact of the divorce will likely affect your standard of living during retirement.
The fall out with your family
People tend to have strong emotional reactions when a long-term marriage ends. Everyone from your siblings to your adult children might take sides in the divorce, making it even messier than it would be when your children were still in school.
The obligations for spousal support
When one spouse stayed home to take care of the house or to raise the couple’s children, they may not have anything set aside of their own to fund their retirement. In addition to sharing retirement savings and pensions accrued by their working spouses, dependent spouses may be able to request alimony. The chances are better for long-lasting alimony after a long-term marriage and when a divorce takes place later in life.
Understanding how the timing of your divorce could affect the process can help you plan for the end of a long-term marriage.