It's a myth that 50% of married couples in America wind up getting divorced. In fact, current trends indicate that fewer couples are divorcing overall.
However, one demographic group is experiencing an uptick in divorce filings — couples age 50 and older. Bowling Green State University's National Center for Family & Marriage Research reports that the rise in so-called "gray divorces" is responsible for divorce rates that are now twice as high as those in 1990 for that demographic group.
Retirement benefits in jeopardy
When younger couples divorce and split their retirement benefits, it's not as significant, because both partners ostensibly still have many working years left to replenish and add to any retirement benefits lost in their divorce. But older workers who divorce do not have the luxury of time to re-feather their retirement nests. They could wind up with insufficient retirement funds to live comfortably in the coming decades.
Protect your financial future in divorce
No one should feel trapped to stay in an abusive or loveless marriage out of financial insecurity. But it's also vital not to act rashly in your hurry to leave an unhappy marriage. Below are some tips to help you carve out a sufficient piece of the retirement pie to allow you to live comfortably in your golden years.
- Evaluate your income and expense sources. Often spouses have a poor grasp of the amount of money that flows into their accounts and the expenses that drain it. Remember that some expenses like car insurance will be higher for individuals than it is for married couples.
- Consider new sources of income. If you are approaching retirement age at your job but fear your share of the benefits won't be enough to meet your expenses, you may want to seek a position at another company to supplement your retirement benefits.
- Downsize. While you may be emotionally attached to the family home in which you reared your children, as a divorced empty-nester, do you really need all that room? A smaller home or apartment can save you money and give you a fresh start.
- Think outside the box. There are many ways to earn extra money in today's gig economy. Drive for Uber or Lyft, advertise your extra bedroom on Airbnb, work as a consultant or freelancer, walk dogs, or teach piano or guitar lessons in your free time.
Strategize your divorce timing
Your Fort Myers family law attorney may advise that you wait awhile to file, perhaps to let your investments grow a bit longer before splitting them in the property settlement. Other reasons to potentially delay filing for divorce include waiting until you've been married a decade to qualify for an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits and waiting to turn 65 to be eligible for Medicare benefits.