Over the years, people change, and relationships that once brought joy may no longer do so. Some people may realize this early on in their marriages and choose to divorce early. Other individuals may be married for decades before they decide that continuing with the marriage is no longer bringing them happiness and satisfaction in life.
These days, gray divorce, or divorce involving individuals over the age of 50, is becoming more prominent. You, like many others, may simply feel as if your marriage is holding you back rather than letting you enjoy your life, and you no longer want to feel that way. Now that your kids are older and nothing is truly tying you to your spouse, you feel like the time has come for a major change.
Think about your finances
Though ending an unsatisfying marriage could help you regain a sense of freedom in your life, it is important to remember that this life-changing event can have major financial repercussions. As you near your retirement years, it is important now more than ever to protect your financial interests. Fortunately, as you prepare for a divorce, you can take steps to keep yourself financially ready. The AARP recommends the following steps:
- Make a list of marital property, separate property and any debts you have alone or in conjunction with your spouse. This information can act as a guideline when it comes time for property and debt division.
- Remember that your retirement account accumulated during the marriage is marital property and that the court can divide it during divorce. Because these funds are undoubtedly precious to you, you may want to think of ways you could negotiate to keep as much of your retirement funds as possible.
- Look at what you can afford for housing on a single income and do not exclude the possibility of renting. Though you may love the house you live in now and likely lived in for decades, if you and your spouse have not completed the mortgage obligation, you may not be able to afford it on your own.
- Because divorce is such a major life change, it is important to update your estate plan to reflect this change. You may need to remove your soon-to-be ex-spouse from important beneficiary roles and decision-making positions.
Divorce at any age is a lot to handle, and in your older years, it may be less easy to bounce back financially than if you were younger. Still, that does not have to hold you back. You can consider all of your legal options, determine how New Jersey state laws impact your finances and obtain the help of a knowledgeable attorney so you can make the best decision for your future.
Reference: “Protecting Your Money in a Divorce” by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin