Mistakes to Avoid With Gray Divorce
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Mistakes to Avoid With Gray Divorce

Divorce rates in the United States are decreasing—except for those over fifty. Actually, since 1990, the divorce rate for those over fifty has doubled.

As married couples get older, the bond that holds a lot of marriages together diffuses, have it be children, financial dependence or common interests.

The Financial Blowback of Divorcing After Fifty

Divorce at this age can be financially crippling. The cost of living is significantly more when you’re single than when you’re share expenses. More disturbing, mid-to later-life break up can destroy retirement plans. There’s less time to regain losses, pay off liabilities, and endure stock market uncertainties. Additionally, you might be entering the end of your pinnacle earning years, so there’s less of an opportunity of making up financial blowback with a secured salary.

These concerns are amplified for women. Following a divorce, household incomes for women drops significantly. In fact, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, twenty percent of women fall into poverty following a divorce.

Additionally, since women’s life expectancy is eighty and a half years in the first half of 2020 (versus seventy-five and a half years for men), divorced women can find themselves living much longer with much less.

Twelve Common Divorce Mistakes

Divorce proceedings can terminate your retirement plans: legal costs, therapy bills, and taking on bills on your own that you once shared can clear out your savings. You can safeguard your financial future by steering clear of the below all-too-common mistakes.

  1. Declining to Create an Asset Inventory

Usually, one spouse has a better comprehension of the couple’s finances than the other. This individual likely has a good idea of how much money is in their investment accounts, the worth of their assets, and how much capital is in their savings accounts, while the other spouse isn’t as knowledgeable. When you’re the latter spouse, you are going to want to take an inventory of all assets prior to attempting to divide them. In addition to knowing what’s in your financial institution accounts, you need to also track any life insurance policies and retirement accounts.

When you are concerned regarding your finances, go to your your local legal aid website in which you may be able to receive legal aid and/or representation for free in a civil case, if your divorce goes to court.

  1. Holding Onto the House

Should you end up with the marital home, think long and hard about retaining it. It may be your sanctuary, and not moving may seem less intrusive for any children still living there. However, it could also be a money pit, particularly with only one person paying for housework, property taxes, and emergency repairs. Prior to deciding to stay, determine if you can afford the mortgage and the expense related to maintaining the property. Additionally, bear in mind that property values go up and down, so do not presume you can sell the home for the amount you require should money become an issue.

  1. Not Aware of What You Owe

Promising “to have and to hold” could bounce back and bite you. In the 9 states that have community property laws—Arizona, California, New Mexico, Louisiana, Idaho, Nevada, Washington state, Wisconsin, and Texas —you’ll be held accountable for half of your spouse’s liabilities even if they aren’t in your name.

Even in states that are non–community-property ones, you might be accountable for shared credit cards or loans. Acquire a full credit report for both of you, so you won’t be surprised about who owes what.

The 9 states that have community property laws are California, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Idaho, Nevada, Washington state, Wisconsin, and Texas. In those states, all assets that come into the marriage throughout the marriage by any means other than a gift or as an inheritance are owned fifty/ fifty by the spouses. Debts, also.

  1. Ignoring Tax Ramifications

Almost every single financial decision you make throughout a divorce comes with a tax bill. Should you take monthly spousal maintenance or a total amount? Is it better to have brokerage accounts or a retirement plan? Are you going to keep the house or sell it off? And who needs to pay the mortgage until it is sold? You might be excited knowing your soon-to-be-ex is going to be surrendering an investment account with profits of $100,000, however, that portfolio comes with a tax hit, decreasing the amount you are going to receive. Even offering child support can have tax consequences, so speak with a CPA or tax advisor to establish what makes the most sense for your circumstances before dividing assets.

If you need help with your taxes following a divorce, you might be qualified for federal tax relief from the government. To qualify for this federal program, you are required to be separated or divorced, and be a taxpayer. The program can assist you in finding someone to help you with tax return arranging.

  1. Not Remembering Health Insurance

When your spouse’s policy has covered you, you might be in for an unpleasant—and costly—bombshell, particularly if you get divorced prior to Medicare kicking in at age sixty-five. Fundamentally, there are 3 options: Your employer could cover you; you could register for your state’s healthcare exchange, or you can continue to use your ex’s current coverage using COBRA for up to thirty-six months, but the expense is likely to be significantly more prior to the divorce.

If a new health insurance policy threatens to break the bank, you might want to think about a legal separation. Under specific situations, you can retain your ex-spouse health insurance while dividing your other assets.

  1. Rolling Your Ex’s Retirement Account Over Into an IRA

Individual retirement account (IRA) regulations upstage the financial hardships of divorce. When you fund your own new IRA with your portion of your ex-spouse’s retirement account and tap it prior to age fifty-nine and a half, you are still going to pay the standard ten percent early withdrawal penalty. One answer: Safeguard the assets in your divorce settlement using a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), in which enables you to make a one-time withdrawal from your ex-spouse’s 401(k) or 403(b) devoid of paying the standard ten percent tax, even if you’re under age fifty-nine and a half.

Discover your state’s laws concerning divorce and paying for a child’s higher schooling. Many states stipulate that divorced parents share payments for schooling expenses, other states see college as a dependent expense, and those payments are not part of divorce settlements.

  1. Supporting Other Adults Financially

Regardless of how much you would like to help your adult children or other adult relatives, your main goal is to guarantee you have a healthy retirement income.

  1. Concealing Assets From Your Spouse

In divorces in which a lot of money is at risk, you might be tempted to conceal assets, so it appears like you have less money to pitch in. Doing this could set you up for legal problems plus legal costs and court time if the assets are discovered. Some of the ramifications for concealing assets from your spouse comprise of a settlement that is going to give your spouse added assets, perjury and/or fraud charges, or a contempt-of-court ruling.

  1. Underestimating Your Expenses

When the income that previously covered one piece of household costs is suddenly split into two, you might have to make some spending changes to afford your day-to-day and month-to-month expenses. Take a realistic look at how much money you are going to need to live on, and be sure you can afford all of your expenses following the divorce without counting on your ex.

  1. Believing Your Divorce Advisors Are Your Friends

What you are going to pay your divorce advisors is going to come out of the settlement you receive. Record how much they spend on your behalf. Don’t forget that, whereas conversations with your attorney might seem friendly and personal, they are paid professionals that are charging you by the hour for each interaction.

  1. Overlooking the Value of a Future Pension

Do not forget to include any portion of a pension that was earned throughout the marriage. As reported by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA), there are 3 techniques of accomplishing this:

  1. The non-employed spouse can get their portion of a future benefit.
  2. The pension can be existing valued and counterbalanced.
  3. Each (1) and (2) can be joined.

When deciding on your solution, be sure to keep your particular requirements prioritized. What good does it do to look forward to an ideal pension in the future when you need the money to survive now?

  1. Non-Existing Team

Having a good divorce team is vital, so don’t scrimp on your professional assistance. The IDFA deems the required minimum to be a divorce attorney and a certified divorce financial analyst whereas noting that other potential members could be a mediator, a CPA, a business valuator, and a child or individual counselor.

The CDFA suggests that having the proper assortment of professionals to help you can actually decrease the expense of litigation while avoiding costly mistakes you could make on your own. Obviously, be certain to do your homework first prior to signing them up.

How Does Getting Divorced Impact Social Security Restrictions?

When you are age sixty-two or older and divorced from a spouse that was entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, you might be still allowed to get benefits based on their records, should you meet particular requirements.

How Can You Safeguard Your Pension When Getting Divorced?

Pension earned by one spouse is viewed as a joint asset. Meaning your spouse might be entitled to half of it following divorce. You can safeguard your pension by examining your pension plan’s guidelines for how to split the pension, suggest financial options to dividing your pension with your spouse, and, as usual, speak to CPA, that specializes in divorce.

How Does Divorce Impact Your Life Insurance?

When getting divorced, it is possible you are going to want to remove your ex-spouse’s name as the primary beneficiary on your life insurance policy. When your policy is revocable, you can just change the name. When your policy has a cash value, you might have to divide the monetary worth of the policy.

How Does a Prenup Impact a Divorce?

A prenup usually outlines the distribution of assets so that in the event of divorce, spouses can bypass squabbling over assets. A prenup agreement lists each spouse’s property and assets and details how everything is going to be treated in the event of divorce. The agreement might also detail how you are going to agree to divide financial assets.

In Conclusion

Divorce can be distressing at any age but using careful planning and bypassing these all-too-general mistakes, you can save yourself from financial heartache down the road.


  1. Fredman, C. (2022, July 13). 12 mistakes to avoid when divorcing over 50. Investopedia. Retrieved September 8, 2022, from https://www.investopedia.com/personal-finance/mistakes-avoid-when-divorcing-over-50/

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