Divorce can rock your life. It can be emotionally trying given the fact that you’re ending your relationship with a person who you once loved, but it can also have an affect on your relationship with your children depending on the custody and visitation arrangement that results. Yet, if you’re like most people, than you’re probably really concerned about how divorce will affect your financial well-being. This may be especially true if you’re older.
This is understandable given the impact of these so-called gray divorces. After all, marriage dissolution can disrupt your retirement accounts, leaving you with less time to recoup your wealth and payoff any debts that you may be accountable after the divorce is finalized. Making matters worse is the fact that older individuals who divorce have to cover their living expenses with half of the wages during a time when they don’t have as much time to increase their salary.
Although this reality may seem scary, you shouldn’t be frightened for your future. Instead, you need to prepare yourself so that you can secure a favorable outcome that leaves you on firm financial footing post-divorce. To do so, consider taking these steps:
- Understand the assets that are in play: It’s best to create an inventory of all assets that are part of the marriage, which may be more challenging than it seems. Sometimes spouses try to secretly hide or deplete assets, meaning that you’ll need to be diligent in uncovering all assets to which you may be entitled.
- Think about whether keeping the house is best for you: There’s a lot of sentimental value in the family home. This may entice you to fight to keep it, but doing so could put you at financial disadvantage given your limited income and increased debt.
- Handle retirement assets correctly: If retirement accounts are transferred without proper legal documentation, then they could be subject to penalties and taxation. You should avoid this by being prepared to handle these matters appropriately.
- Fully consider your debts: Don’t downplay or underestimate the debts you’ll be left with after you divorce is finalized. Doing so could leave you with much more than you can handle. By being realistic you can better plan for your future and negotiate or litigate your case with those goals in mind.
In the end, the divorce process isn’t about punishing your soon-to-be ex-spouse. It’s about securing your future as best as you can under the circumstances. Embarking on a new life post-divorce can be scary when you’re 55 and older, but you can find peace of mind by being prepared for the road ahead. While surrounding yourself with loved ones can be crucial to getting through these challenging times, it can also be enormously helpful to have the assistance of a legal advocate who will fight for what you deserve.