Divorce has different implications at different times in your life. In your 20s or 30s, the biggest concern will probably be negotiating custody arrangements. In your 50s, with retirement looming and your children likely close to adulthood or already out of your home, your concerns will be very different.
There are steps that you can take now to help proactively prepare for a divorce if you are over the age of 50.
Get copies of financial and tax documents
The longer you have remained married, the more marital property you will have. Before you can form a realistic idea about the fairest way to split your property, you first have to look over those assets. Knowing what you acquired and earned during the marriage is very important.
Review your retirement plans
The chances are good that you and your ex planned for a joint retirement based on your savings and shared household expenses. You will likely have to split retirement assets unless you have a pre-existing agreement about how to handle them in a divorce. Looking at what you have can give you an idea of what you need for the future.
Familiarize yourself with the Social Security divorce rules
Did you know that if your spouse earned more than you or you stayed home to take care of the kids that you could have a claim to some of the Social Security benefits they accrued while working? If you were the spouse who paid into Social Security, did you know your ex has a right to benefits without impacting your benefits? When you understand how the Social Security Administration handles retirement benefit claims after a divorce you can better budget for the future.
Negotiate to keep your costs lower
If you litigate your divorce, you will spend more on the process than you would if you set your own terms outside of court through collaboration or mediation. Not only can working together reduce how much your divorce costs, but it will also give you more control over the specific terms that you set.
Give yourself a little space to dream
Divorce may feel like an end, but it can also be seen as the opening to a new, more expansive future. Giving yourself personal space through creative expression or even counseling to reconnect with your own hopes and dreams can make the future seem less intimidating and possibly downright exciting.
If you prepare ahead of time, a gray divorce does not have to resolve in financial devastation or extreme levels of stress. The right planning and support can make the process easier for you.