The divorce rate in the United States is dropping–it’s now closer to 40 percent than the often cited 50 percent. But among one group, the divorce rate remains high. That group is baby boomers. For those born between 1945 and 1964, the divorce rate has actually increased by 50 percent over the past two decades, according to a Pew Research Center report.
On CNN, opinion writer Pepper Schwartz said boomers came of age during a stable economic period, which gave them a base where they could pursue other movements like women’s rights, and take part in “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll.” She said the liberalization of people and move against conformity is also what led to the downslide of conventional marriages.
Lili Vasileff, president of Divorce and Money Matters, says it’s because people are living longer and want to live fully throughout their longer lives. “They may have decades ahead and they don’t want to be unhappy anymore,” she says.
Whatever the reason, so called “gray divorce” clearly affects many marriages. If you’re going through a divorce in your 50s or later, there are a few things you should know. You’ll definitely want to hire a lawyer and possibly a financial adviser, as your assets are probably greater than if you were divorced at a younger age. Your life is probably also very enmeshed with your partners. You might have kids together, retirement accounts, life insurance plans, own property, and more. Divorce at an older age can be especially tricky and emotional, but working with a small family practice can make it as comfortable and smooth as possible.
Here are a few of the most important things to speak to your lawyer about when getting divorced over age 50:
How you divide your property not only determines who gets what in the divorce, but it can also have major tax implications. Under the Tax Reform Act you can transfer property without reporting a loss or gain, so if you’re going to transfer any property you should do it before the divorce. You will need a legal document for the process to be tax-free. A lawyer can not on help you obtain the document, but can also help you walk through property division options.
There are numerous types of retirement accounts: IRAs, pensions, Social Security, and 401ks. In some cases, depending on the plan, ex-spouses can continue receiving benefits. This is often the case with Social Security. Make sure you know which benefits will continue after divorce, if any, as that could have a big impact on your financial situation. At the same time, even if money was saved through one spouse’s account, it is generally considered marital property and will be divided in some way during divorce. A lawyer can ensure you get your fair share.
Alimony is not always automatically granted, but is part of the divorce settlement terms. The courts will decide how much to award, so having an experienced lawyer on your side who can help you obtain the appropriate amount of alimony is important.
Like with retirement plans, you need to look into how your insurance benefits will be affected by divorce. As you age, health insurance becomes even more critical. Does only one spouse work, and the other receives benefits through his or her plan? If so, in some cases benefits last for a limited amount of time after divorce. Speak with a lawyer and financial planner to maintain your benefits for as long as possible, and get set up with new insurance as soon as possible.
Dealing with Adult Children
Your kids may be grown, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be upset about their parents splitting up. Be prepared for some hard conversations. Having a plan for your future and showing both you and your spouse will still be taken care of is important. While this is a personal issue not a legal one, an experienced family attorney has seen it happen numerous times before and can help you get things in order before talking with your kids.
If you’re a baby boomer getting divorced, Schiffman Family Law can guide you through the process and help get ensure the benefits and financial setup you need. Set up a free one-hour consultation with Mike Schiffman today, so that Mike can provide you with the necessary information as you consider your options for the future.