If you are over the age of fifty and are considering a divorce from your spouse, you are not alone. Divorces among people of your age group are becoming more common. Just as with every age group, people over fifty face specific issues that do not necessarily affect younger persons.
For instance, the older you get, the more difficult it is to transition from one line of work into another. This is especially important for persons going through so-called gray divorces to consider as divorce often leads to a transition in many areas of life- employment being foremost among them. Having economic and financial insecurity is common among people your age, even in the best of times. Now, as you are facing the prospect of divorcing your spouse, you are not only preparing to lose the emotional support of a partner and spouse but also to lose out on perhaps half of your monthly income.
Today's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, will discuss with you some tips and advice regarding making it through a difficult divorce in your fifties and beyond. There is little in terms of advice that can solve any problems you face, but we hope the advice we can provide can assist you and provide you with some peace of mind.
Respect the consequences of gray divorce to avoid them
First of all, I need to let you know that there are serious financial risks associated with divorcing after fifty. Consider the possibilities of losing a portion of your savings, your spouse's income, and whatever emotional components they have been contributing to your well-being for the duration of your marriage. Imagine that all of this is taken away in a reasonably short period, and you are left to take care of yourself for the first time in what could be decades.
As intimidating as this all sounds, you should also know that you are well equipped to battle these challenging times and come out of your divorce in the best shape of your life regarding your mental state and your overall well-being. At the same time, you may not be able to avoid every financial difficulty associated with a gray divorce. You can plan for those problems to have them cause you the least amount of disruption to your life.
Plan for life after your divorce
This is a step that is advisable for any person going through a divorce, but especially true for those over fifty. The fact is that you may not be able to live the same lifestyle after your divorce as you were accustomed to living while you were married. You may have become used to working either part-time or essentially being retired. However, your spouse's income loss may cause you to reevaluate that.
If your retirement savings are something that will be a hotly contested issue in your family law case, you ought to speak to your family law attorney about how to best preserve those retirement benefits for when it comes time for you to leave the workforce. It may be unavoidable that a portion of those savings will be divided into your spouse's property share in the divorce. However, if you can figure out early how much you are exposed to losing, you can prepare in your own life for how to counteract that. Retirement plans may need to change. You may need to work longer than you had previously thought. These are just a few outcomes that often come from a divorce.
If you are coming into your gray divorce from the other vantage point of a spouse who is more or less reliant on your spouse for income, you need to plan to determine your actual needs after your divorce has been finalized. A realistic view of your minimal needs is necessary for you to ask your court for spousal maintenance. If you have supported your spouse to get an education that allowed them to earn a substantial income, you should be prepared to make an argument like this in court.
Take into account the actual value of financial assets.
Perhaps the most critical piece of property in a gray divorce is your home. You and your spouse may have been living in this house for many, many years, and you will likely not be all that willing to give up possession of it to your spouse. Be aware, however, that just because you "win" an item in a divorce does not mean that no consequences are surrounding that item.
Remember that taxes, upkeep, and mortgage payments are associated with a divorce. If your position is that your home should be awarded to you after the divorce, then be prepared to answer questions about your ability to afford the payments. Typically in a Texas divorce, if your spouse deeds you their share of the house, you will need to sign a deed of trust that allows them to foreclose on you if you miss a mortgage payment. This allows your spouse to be protected in the future should you fail to stay current on your mortgage payments.
Finally, consider whether or not you have the cash on hand to live your life well after a divorce. The older we get, the more likely we are to accumulate assets and wealth in property that is not precisely an ATM in terms of your ready access to its value. Real estate is a significant investment, but it takes time to gain access to that value. Suppose you need cash to pay bills, medical treatment, attorney's fees, etc. In that case, you may want to consider negotiating to receive a more significant share of any bank accounts that are community property instead of less liquid assets like real estate.
Assess how involved in the family finances you are
In many households, one spouse will be the bill payer/family accountant, and the other will not participate much in the family unit's financial doings. I'm not here to debate whether this arrangement is the best one or not, but what I am here to say is that this arrangement puts you at a disadvantage if you are the spouse who has not taken much of an interest in the family finances.
The reason being is that now that you are facing a divorce, you may not know what the value of a particular asset is or even how to calculate the equity in your home or assess the retirement savings of you and your spouse. Suppose this situation sounds like you; consider doing an inventory of your household property before the divorce, so you have an idea of what you and your spouse own. The divorce process will divide it all up between community property and property that belongs in your or your spouse's separate estates. If you have a good idea of what's out there, think about where each asset should end up and arguments to make as to why you will be in good shape.
Consider hiring an attorney to educate you on the financial issues of gray divorce.
Many people entering a divorce take the position of not wanting to be "greedy." These folks want to get in and get out of the divorce with the least amount of friction possible. In many regards, I understand this line of thought. However, this could be a disaster for you when it comes to a gray divorce. The reason is that divorce at this stage of your life could (and probably will) be the most significant financial event that you will experience for the rest of your life. You will want to know what is out there in terms of property, what your rights are to it, and how to present arguments that allow you the best opportunity to gain in the divorce what is rightfully yours.
Hiring an attorney with experience handling divorces, notably gray divorces, is an essential part of this equation. It is always a good idea to ask any attorney you speak to about their qualifications and how they would help you achieve your goals.
Questions about gray divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you have any questions about gray divorce in Texas, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free consultations with a licensed family law attorney sex days a week. It would be an honor to speak to you and discuss your case and the services that we can provide to you as a client of ours.