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 the age of 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 times leads to transition in many areas of life- employment being foremost among them. Having economic and financial insecurity is common among people of 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 to also 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 in regard to making it through a difficult divorce in your fifties and beyond. Obviously there is little in terms of advice that can solve any and all problems that you face, but we hope the advice that we are able to provide can assist you and provide you with some peace of mind.
Respect the consequences of gray divorce in order to avoid them
First of all, I need to let you know that there are serious financial risks associated with divorcing after the age of fifty. Consider the possibilities of losing a portion of your savings, your spouse’s income and whatever emotional components he or she has been contributing to your well being for the duration of your marriage. In a fairly quickly time period, imagine that all of this is taken away 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 tough times and to come out of your divorce in the best shape of your life when it comes to your mental state and your overall well being. While you may not be able to avoid every financially difficulty associated with a gray divorce you can plan ahead for those problems in order to have them cause you the least amount of disruption to your life.
Plan ahead 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 the age of fifty. The fact is that you may not be able to live the same lifestyle after your divorce than you were accustomed to living while you were married. You may have become used to working either part time or essentially being retired. The loss of your spouse’s income may cause you to reevaluate that, however.
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 times come as a result of 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 ahead to determine what your actual needs will be after your divorce has been finalized. A realistic view of what your minimal needs are is necessary for you to be able to ask your court for spousal maintenance. If you have supported your spouse in order so that he or she could 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 true value of financial assets
Perhaps the most important 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 there are not consequences surrounding that item.
Remember that there are taxes, upkeep and mortgage payments 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 him or her 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 exactly an ATM in terms of your ready access to its value. Real estate is a great investment but it takes time to actually gain access to that value. If you are in need of cash to be able to pay towards bills, medical treatment, attorney’s fees, etc. then you may want to consider negotiating to receive a greater 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 actually are
In many households, one spouse will be the bill payer/family accountant and the other will not participate much at all in the financial doings of the family unit. 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. If this situation sounds like you, consider doing an inventory of your household property before a 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, have thoughts 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, when it comes to a gray divorce this could be a disaster for you. The reason being is that a 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 he or she would help you to achieve the goals that you have.
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 of charge consultations with a licensed family law attorney sex days a week. It would be an honor to speak to you and to discuss your case as well as the services that we can provide to you as a client of ours.