Divorce over 50, also known as "gray divorce," can be the right decision for men and women involved in unhappy marriages. In most gray divorces, the primary point of contention is property division, since the children have often left the home. Property division in divorce can be a problematic issue for some women.
A recent study indicated that more than one in four, or 27 percent, of women who had a gray divorce were in poverty. In comparison, only 11 percent of men who went through a gray divorce lived in poverty. Any woman over 50 considering divorce, or any woman over 50 whose spouse has filed divorce, needs to know that the decisions she makes right now could have a major impact on her finances going forward.
By taking the following steps, a woman can give herself the best chance to be treated fairly.
- Get all financial documentation: Documentation tells the story of a family's finances. It is absolutely critical to get copies of all financial records. Tax returns, bank statements, stock options, investment account statements, pension and retirement account information, and real estate title information are all critical. These and other documents will be helpful in understanding the size and nature of the marital estate.
- Budget for after and during divorce: In any divorce, the money that once supported one household must now support two households. Therefore, it is important to be realistic about the expenses you are likely to incur following your divorce. While you should focus on your post-divorce life, it is also important to budget for while your divorce is pending. Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to recover temporary spousal support while the divorce is in progress.
- If you have a prenuptial agreement, find it: A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that is meets all legal requirements can be helpful in identifying each spouse's rights and responsibilities regarding property distribution and spousal support.
- Work with a lawyer: A divorce lawyer will understand the ins and outs of property division, spousal support, prenuptial agreements (if appropriate) and the other important factors of your divorce.
A divorce can bring on uncertainty, anxiety and other emotions. With skilled legal counsel, any woman going through divorce, regardless of her age, can feel a measure of security moving into this new chapter of her life.