At any age, divorce poses difficult financial and legal challenges for couples in Texas. However, the end of a marriage later in life poses unique divorce issues for those couples.
Divorce may be especially difficult for women who were out of the work force, and who are less likely to receive alimony because they raise the children and do not work. One spouse may have also retired.
Divorces among adults who are at least 50-years-old and over doubled between 2010 and 2014 and 25 percent of all divorces involved a spouse who is over 50, according to a Bowling Green University study. These rates have remained constant since 2014. Longer lifespans, higher remarriage rates, more women participating in the workforce and evolving ideas on marriage and divorce have contributed to this increase.
These divorces may be the time to downsize. Selling a home may be emotionally difficult, but this sale or agreeing to other property in the settlement agreement may provide resources that will be needed later. Downsizing may also provide financial resources for these later years.
Assets may also have different advantages or disadvantages. A home may appreciate over time, cannot provide income, require upkeep and may be subject to capital gains taxes when sold. Stocks can provide dividends, but lose value as the market changes. Financial planning can help allocate these assets to ensure they provide income.
Delaying retirement, getting a job, selling assets, reducing expenses, catching up on contributions to retirement accounts, changing withdrawals from savings and making changes in lifestyle can also help. Financial commitments to adult children, such as paying for their education or wedding, should also be reconsidered.
Paying for health care is significant because a spouse cannot stay on their former spouse’s health plan, and Medicare is unavailable until a person reaches 65. Long-term care insurance can help pay for in-home care or for an assisted-living facility. Prices for these plans increase, though, with the age of the policy holder.
Upgrading bank accounts, wills, estate plans and beneficiaries is also important. Forgetting to change plans, such as a 401(k), can have assets go to unintended beneficiaries.
Legal expertise can help structure a settlement or plan that will protect assets and a spouse’s rights. A lawyer can help formulate advocate for these plans in negotiations and legal proceedings.