Divorce Over 50: Gray Divorce – the Good & the Bad
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
If you are thinking about divorcing and you are over 50, here are some of the pros and cons of breaking up your marriage at this stage in your life.
Well, first of all, let me tell you that I am not a lawyer. If you want legal advice, talk to an attorney about your particular situation because there is no magical, one-size-fits-all "divorce answer” for you on the internet. And, there is no such thing as a simple divorce. All I am doing is trying to give you (both men and women over 50) my intuitive advice based upon my experience and based upon what I have heard from others who have opened up to me.
The Problems with Gray Divorce
I went through my first divorce when I was 24 after five years of a childless, short-term marriage. That divorce was a piece of cake. I divorced again in my late forties (when I had two adorable kids) and that divorce was a nightmare. Well, here are some of the difficulties associated with divorcing after 50 that you might not have had when you were younger.
1. Finding a Decent Lawyer: This is a problem at every age, but it is more important when you have major assets. Hint: When you do find a good attorney, don’t go against his or her advice without talking it over with this same attorney or with another attorney. Also, don’t lose everything by trying to “win.” On the other hand, don’t lose out by compromising or making deals behind your lawyer’s back.
2. Dividing Assets: Be thankful if you are not dividing debts. However, remember that, in the best of circumstances, you’ll probably be worth half of what you were when you were married, and you’ll be living on a lower income with many of the same expenses.
3. Getting an Accurate Assessment of Assets: Older people are more likely to have their own businesses than twenty-year-olds, and people with businesses are more entrepreneurial about hiding assets. Also, talk to a Divorce Financial Planner to make sure that you always consider taxes when evaluating the worth of your IRA, 401K, Social Security entitlement, pension, spousal support, or other investments. In addition, ask about getting life insurance on your ex if you depend upon spousal support or child support.
4. Discovering That Life After 50 Sucks: It is more difficult to start a new life when you are older. It is more difficult for women to find a job after they’re 50. It is more difficult for men to find a new wife while paying child support. It is more difficult for all of you to make new friends after you are out of high school or college. Actually, it’s more difficult to do almost everything when you’re old. No matter what you’ve read, fifty is not the new 30, sixty is not the new 40, and seventy is sure-as-hell not the new anything.
5. Using Emotion Instead of Logic: You just can’t afford stupid mistakes when you are over 50. When you were young, you had plenty of time to recover from your lapses in judgment.
The Good Things about Gray Divorce
A lot of things are better when you are older and some of those things might surprise you.
1. You Probably Have Children: While everyone talks about how hard it is to divorce when you have kids, and it is hard on everyone, there are good things associated with having children, as well. After your divorce, you’ll still have a family. Hopefully, you will see your kids as often as possible because maintaining that connection is the key to staying sane and grounded whenever your world starts to fall apart. Having a child to talk to (in an age-appropriate manner, on child-appropriate subjects) will keep you from feeling as if your marriage was a waste of time. Your children will give you a reason for living. And, having children, even when you text them and they don’t text back, will force you to remain positive when everything around you has become a total downer.
2. Children Keep Your Spirits Alive: As a parent, you are allowed to live somewhat vicariously through your children. And, even though everyone says that living through your child is wrong, as long as you don’t become a crazed “stage mom” or a tyrant-like “baseball dad,” it is in your parental DNA to want to guide and help your offspring. I believe that helping your children (or grandchildren or stepchildren or self-appointed-God-Children) requires you to remain an optimist about the nature of life in general.
3. You Probably Have More Money: Hopefully, you have more assets than you did when you were in your twenties. This is not always the case, but many Baby Boomers have built up some equity in their homes and in their portfolios. Yes, I know that you might have lost everything in some bubble, but there is also a good chance that you have more assets than your younger neighbors do.
4. You Definitely Have More Wisdom: This is not BS. After living for five decades or more, you can look at difficulties from a longterm perspective. Are you ready to hide in shame because you have a zit? Will you want to jump off a bridge if someone yells at you? No way. You are cool, centered, and grounded because you’ve seen it all before. You might want to look younger but you don’t want to be younger, with all the angst and drama associated with every little roadblock.
Divorce Over 50 Can Be Good and Bad
Getting a divorce when you’re older is different than splitting up when you’re young, broke, and saddled with preschool children. Some days your divorce will feel good. Some days your divorce will feel evil. But, you’ve been through so many crazy things in your lifetime, you know you’ll be okay.
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