Gray divorce, the dissolution of marriages among older couples, can be financially draining. Any divorce proceedings are. But what makes it more challenging for older couples to go through the process is perhaps the longevity of living together as a couple.
According to studies, the number of gray divorce cases has been on the rise since the 1990s, and most of these are between first marriages or those who were married for more than 20 years. If you have been with someone for that long, it is more likely that you have been relying on each other for almost every aspect of your life, especially regarding financial matters.
Divorce costs money
Below are some common reasons why divorce proceedings can be costly, and why they can be steeper for older couples:
- Asset division complexity: If you have been together for decades, you have probably accumulated substantial assets, including homes, retirement accounts and investments. More assets mean a more complex process.
- Alimony and retirement: If you are financially dependent on your spouse, or the other way around, alimony payments may be a factor in post-divorce financial security. Also, adjustments to retirement plans are built around shared expenses, which may delay or reduce your retirement.
- Health care costs: Health care is another concern. As people age, medical expenses tend to increase. Gray divorce can disrupt shared health insurance plans, leaving you or both of you facing higher health care costs, particularly if you are not yet eligible for Medicare.
As these concerns become more complex, they can also drive up legal costs, impacting both you and your partner’s financial well-being.
It is not just about the cost
Yes, a gray divorce can be financially draining. You may likely find yourself struggling to cover your living expenses post-divorce if you push through it. Money may become your top worry, or its shortage may cause stress or loneliness.
However, think of your well-being and your motivations for even thinking about getting a divorce. You may be a bit older, but it doesn’t mean you cannot start afresh. At the end of the day, what should matter is your overall well-being and what you really want.
Whatever your decision, it is important to think through it carefully. You may consult with the people you trust, talk to your partner and your children or consider help from a legal counsel. Their opinion can help you make an informed decision.