Getting Divorced in your 60s: What to Expect

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the highest divorce rates in recent years are among people aged 55 to 64 — so-called “gray divorces.” This includes some high-profile separations such as Bill and Melinda Gates who ended their 27-year marriage earlier this year. Though your divorce likely won’t be as public as the Gates’, we understand the emotional and financial toll it can take, so it’s best to know what to expect. Here are a few things to consider as you plan for a divorce later in life.
Telling Your Children 

If you’re a parent, custody is likely not an issue since your children are probably adults living their own lives. But divorce still affects grown children. Be ready to have difficult conversations and listen to their concerns and feelings. In general, it’s best to treat the situation as you would if you were splitting up when the kids were younger. Don’t disparage each other in front of the children, pressure them to take sides, or cause rifts that may affect relationships with your grandchildren. You’re still a family, and the issue needs to be addressed so you can begin to create a new, healthy dynamic.

Splitting the Finances 

Financial considerations may be the most difficult part of gray divorces since they can be complicated after so many years together. You’ll need to figure out how to split your assets fairly, and also understand the impact the divorce will have on your retirement plans. If one of you was the main breadwinner, you’ll have to decide how to structure spousal support as needed. If your spouse handled most of the finances during your marriage, you may be shocked to learn how much money is available, the status of debts, and the value of retirement accounts, real estate, and other holdings. If so, you’ll need to educate yourself about investing and money management. This may include hiring your own financial advisor or estate planning attorney to work with going forward. A divorce may also cause you to postpone retirement or start a new career late in life to make up financial ground or maintain a standard of living.

Healthcare and Future Stability

Healthcare is another important issue. If one partner has health insurance through a spouse’s job, you’ll need to decide how premiums will be paid going forward and how divorce may affect your Medicare benefits.

Mediation vs. Litigation

When it’s time to finalize the divorce, consider using a professional mediator rather than taking the case to court. A trained mediator can help make the process less confrontational and more efficient, which can save you time and money as compared with litigation.

Take Time for Yourself 

Finally, it’s critical that you take time to consider your personal feelings during this difficult transition. This includes deciding what you want your life to be like moving forward. On the positive side, you have more life experience to guide you, perhaps a strong support network of old friends, and less concern about what others might think. Be kind to yourself and allow the time you need to process and move forward.

If you are considering divorce and would like to discuss your options, please contact us at 253-844-4412 or via email for a consultation.

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