If You’re Over 50, Your Chances for Divorce Just Doubled

Maintain financial health, even when life surprises you.

Baby boomers — Americans aged 54 to 72 — are divorcing at such an unprecedented rate that the trend has been dubbed the “gray divorce.” Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to Pew Research Center.

Blame it on the empty nest, infidelity, growing apart or general dissatisfaction with the marriage; whatever reason caused the split, the stigma once associated with divorce has faded in recent years, as you can see in various ways including in pop culture with movies that now celebrate life after divorce. As life expectancy rises, it’s conceivable for someone in their 50s, 60s or 70s to find a new love and hit new anniversary milestones.

Click to read more about the true cost of divorce.

Before baby boomers decide to untangle two interwoven lives and go their separate ways, it bears mentioning that divorce is expensive. The average divorce filing fee in the U.S. is $215 and the average divorce attorney’s fees are $10,180, according to a GOBankingRates study. And when retirement is coming within the next decade, the ramifications are even costlier.

The nest egg that a couple has been saving now needs to support two households and lifestyles resulting in a potentially postponed retirement, split income and divided pensions and IRAs. If the marriage lasted less than ten years, it means neither party is eligible to claim spousal or survivor Social Security benefits.

Time becomes an obstacle because there’s less of it to mitigate the financial losses associated with gray divorce. Baby boomers are past the peak of earnings potential, but there are ways to maintain a strong financial health as you enter a new season of life.

  1. In addition to your divorce lawyer, you can seek the professional counsel of a certified divorce financial analyst. This person specializes in the financial issues surrounding divorce and helps their clients prepare for issues that might include dividing property, splitting a house, tax problems and more.
  2. Decide if you can afford to maintain your current living situation. If not, move to a new community that has the promise of job opportunities and a lower cost of living for baby boomers.
  3. If extra income is something you’re after, consider a side gig like posting your home on Airbnb, taking up blogging, pet sitting or teaching English as a second language, or parlay the skills you amassed during your career into a consulting business.

After weighing the financial penalties, avoiding the gray divorce and staying married might seem like a practical or attractive decision for some couples. However, money isn’t everything. The opportunity for happiness and independence might be more important.

Find out about careers that are more likely to lead to divorce.

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