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Mistakes to Avoid When Divorcing Over 50

Common Errors Made During a Gray Divorce

While divorce rates have generally been decreasing in the United States, divorce after 50, also referred to as gray divorce or late-life divorce, is still on the rise. Many well-known couples have been involved in gray divorces, including:

  • Morgan Freeman & Myrna Colley-Lee
  • Melinda gates & Bill Gates
  • Jeff Bezos & MacKenzie Scott
  • Billy Ray Cyrus & Tish Cyrus
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver

As many of these couples have been together for decades, gray divorces can be especially complex as it relates to the division of assets. There are also other nuances and pitfalls to avoid if you are involved in a late-life divorce. Common gray divorce mistakes to avoid include:

  • Failing to identify all separate and marital assets. If one spouse controlled the finances, the other spouse may not have a clear picture of what assets and funds the couple has; they may also be unaware of the account numbers, current account balances, investment portfolios, and/or the status of their retirement funds. Whether you are the spouse with or without all the financial information, you should create a list of the assets and debts you have as an individual and as a couple (as best you can). This list can help you better understand what assets are subject to division. If you are the spouse who is not in the financial loop, you should try to locate as much information as possible. Your attorney can also help you during the deposition or discovery phase if you still have not gained access to this data.
  • Focusing solely on the short-term future. During your divorce, you should also make a plan for your post-divorce life. Practically, this preparation involves creating a budget with your sole income in mind, setting aside time for self-care and dating yourself, and considering what your post-divorce life will look like.
  • Forgetting about potential tax consequences. There are tax implications linked to multiple decisions that you make throughout your divorce, including child custody, asset transfers, and property division. You should consult with an accountant and/or ask your attorney about the tax and financial implications of certain choices.
  • Holding on to the family home. While your family home means a lot to you, you should consider letting it go. When you create your post-divorce budget, consider whether you will be able to manage the payments (for the mortgage, insurance, utility bills, property taxes, home repairs, etc.) and upkeep with one income.
  • Ignoring the impact on your children. If you have children, including adult children, they will also be emotionally affected by the dissolution of your marriage. Adult children who still rely on you financially may also be affected if neither parent is able to continue supporting them.
  • Ignoring what happens to your health coverage. If you are not eligible for Medicare and were covered by your spouse’s healthcare policy, you will need to obtain new coverage. It is costly to try and cover medical expenses without insurance, and while there are programs like COBRA that allow you to temporarily use your ex-spouse’s coverage, those options are also expensive.
  • Making emotional decisions. During and after your divorce, you may experience a wide range of emotions even if your divorce is amicable. However, you shouldn’t base your decisions on your emotions. An attorney can also help you avoid making emotional decisions by providing an unbiased, neutral opinion.
  • Not having a team on your side. One of the biggest mistakes you can make during a gray divorce is failing to obtain legal counsel as well as emotional and financial support. You not only need an attorney to help you with case legalities but also need friends, family, and others to support you throughout the legal process.
  • Not preparing yourself mentally and emotionally. While many people research legal implications and information, they do not consider the psychological and emotional effects of divorce. You should take time to consider how you feel, your life is changing, and you will take care of yourself emotionally.
  • Trying to hide assets. Hiding assets from your spouse is against the law. You can face serious legal and social consequences. If you have assets you wish to keep, you should consult with your attorney to make a plan to legally protect your assets.

Getting Divorced Later in Life? Our Firm Can Help You.

Backed by over two decades of collective experience, William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys is equipped to help you navigate the divorce process. Our attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options as well as the mistakes to avoid that are specific to your case. Whether you need help filing a contested or uncontested divorce or with divorce mediation, our firm will provide you with high-quality, individualized legal counsel.

Schedule an initial consultation with our firm by calling (215) 515-9901 or completing our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.