How to prepare for divorce in your 50s or 60s


How to prepare for divorce in your 50s or 60s

Rate of divorce in Australia, just like in most other developed countries, surprisingly dropped for younger ages, but almost doubled for people in the 50 – 70 age bracket.  We call them “grey divorces”  

Somehow there is a correlation between the number of people getting married later in life and the number of divorces at later age. What that stipulates is the fact that people who are in pre-retirement age, or those already retired that now decide to divorce, just simply married too young, and to a degree now pay the consequences of those decisions.  

I will not be going into any reasons behind such decisions, for once I am not a psychologist, so that’s not my place, but divorce at any stage of life, has huge financial impact and consequences, and that if part of my work and my advice.  

As difficult as this subject is, the better you are prepared, the more rational your thinking the better the outcome for both parties concern. The problem with most divorces is bitterness, resentment, feeling of rejection hence revenge. This is a sure way to lose all your savings and destroy your life, and the life of your partner. And to be truthful with you, from then on, your life, at least your financial life will only become more difficult. Therefore, one of the best things you and your ex-partner can do is to be civil, open and honest.  

So let’s go through this difficult, but essential information. If this is you, if you are in the exact situation I am describing now, please watch to the end. This video is specifically prepared for you, so at least I can take away the financial worry and you can go through this painful divorce and come out a better person, but still with some financial assets behind you and then you can start putting your life back together.  

“When people divorce, it’s always such a tragedy.
At the same time, if people stay together it can be even worse.”

Monica Bellucci 

As you can see, I do like smart quotes, but I really would use a quote of movie celebrity, as most of their lives are staged and just not relatable for a person that has 9 – 5 job, doesn’t live for the camera and appearances, but Monica Bellucci, an Italian actress, was married to a handsome French actor Vincent Cassel for 14 years, and together for 18, so let’s give them some credit of understanding what married life is all about.  

Having been assisting families for over 20 years, I have noticed that in most households there is one person dominating in the finance department. Please don’t assume this is always a man, oh no, I have seen some very savvy ladies, but regardless of who is the main provider or a decision maker, both parties need to start communicating about financial matters, being open and honest.  

But my very first and the most important advice you can take away from here is, DO NOT go through this alone. You need a very good legal and financial advice, especially if you are the person, who has not been a decision maker when it comes to money.  

That support will not only help with your divorce to be financially fair, but will remove you from any direct confrontation with your ex.  

But there are certain things you can do even prior to making the final decision of divorce to see where you are at, should you proceed with divorce, and to have details ready for your legal and financial advisors.

1. Create a list of all assets 

That will include your financial assets, such as your home, contents, cars, rental properties, holiday house, superannuation or pension funds, bank accounts and anything else you can think of.  

After that, create another list of non-financial assets such as photographs, family memorabilia, home items that are dear to your heart. Those might not have a great financial value, but could be of important emotional value for you.  

2. Create a list of all liabilities

List all the loans you both have, mortgage, personal loans, car loans, credit cards, store loans

3. Don not, and I repeat, do not hold onto the family home.

Not only it will only keep you feeing miserable, it is very hard to emotionally be ready for a new, after-divorce live, but in most cases, this is exactly what keep divorced people poor income-wise.

4. Pay attention to your cash flow.

Sit down and prepare your budget as a single person. See how much you need and then you can decide what assets can provide you that level of income, or maybe you will have to return to part-time work, but at least you are fully aware and can enter the divorce assets division with understanding of your live needs and not act emotionally. 

5. Look at net value of assets you are about to receive from your divorce.  

This is so often ignored by many. If you divide assets don’t estimate based on gross value, but rather net after tax. This is extremally unfair, if you receive assets that in order to support you, it is essential to sell it. The proceeds after tax might be significantly lower, leaving you in a disadvantaged position. 

6. Postpone supporting your adult children

Divorce is not the time to start helping your children. You have to realise that your assets have just been halved, your retirement income you might have been counting on, has been just half. Now you have to concentrate on either rebuilding what you no longer have due to your divorce, by going back to work or reorganising your money, so you can continue. You have to think about your own needs for the retirement, as you no longer have a back up partner to help you. 

7. Don’t try to hide assets 

Please do not try to hide assets when preparing for divorce. This might be tempting, thinking you deserve it, but high penalties might be imposed by courts for doing so, not to mention that this is not a fair and decent or honest behaviour towards your partner. You both have created this life, many years together, so the divorce also need to be fair, just and as painless as possible. 

8. Have support around you

This is a very important step, but many feel ashamed and want to hide it. Also many parents feel terrible telling children about the divorce decision. Well, you only have one life, and it is your choice and your decision how you want to spend it. It should not be subject to anyone’s judgement, and if your kids really love you, they would like to see you happy and flourishing and not sad and miserable. 

So find a good circle of friendly support, spend time with friends, find new hobbies, so you don’t live your divorce every second of your life.

9. Always use advice of good professionals that have your interest at heart. 

If you are that person from the marriage, who has not been a decision maker, you have to have an independent financial support and advice. I can assure you, that your ex-partner will get the best advice. So in order to be equally informed and have an equal say in the matter, don’t try to do it yourself, don’t just politely agree and accept what’s given to you. Have your professional representation and resolve this divorce as quickly, as painlessly and as financially appropriate for you but fairly as possible.  

“Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”
Michelle Obama 

Emotional finish, but it is an emotional topic. I will create more articles on the topic of divorce in this late stage of life, especially its impact on your retirement, social security benefits, your assets, your income and how to deal with such changes.  

If you are in a situation of going through a divorce now and you need advice, support, and guidance what to do, feel free to contact me. 

By: Katherine Isbrandt CFP®
Money Strategist & Retirement Planner
Principal of About Retirement

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