The number of people getting a divorce after age 55 is trending upward and has been for quite a while. As older people go into divorce court, it requires a change in how things normally progress. These couples do not have concerns over child custody, which often ends up being the major focus of most divorces. The main focus of a gray divorce is usually finances.
Kiplinger notes that older couples have a harder time with property division and moving forward due to their ages. Being closer to retirement and having been in a marriage for decades means these couples are more entwined than a younger couple. This brings unique challenges for older divorcing couples.
Closer to retirement
One of the most prevalent concerns is that an older couple is closer to retirement. Since courts will divide retirement accounts, this can cause serious financial issues for someone who was planning to retire in the next few years. A person may have to continue working longer and put off retirement plans if he or she loses quite a large chunk of his or her retirement account.
More complicated assets
Since the couple has been together for so long and is much further along in life, they often have more complicated financial situations. For example, if the wife always stayed at home and the husband always worked, it can make it difficult to divide assets and determine the fair way to do so.
Older couples may also own more assets than younger couples. They could have multiple houses, retirement accounts, investments and recreational vehicles. All these assets must go through the division process, which is tough not only on the couple but on the whole family. For example, if dividing the value of a summer home requires selling it, the couple’s children could be upset at the loss of a special place where they used to make memories.