According to a 2013 article in the New York Times, the past 23 years have seen divorce rates double for people 50 or older. This means that more than 25 percent of the newly divorced are over 50.
Divorce is difficult, no matter what age you experience it, but when you end a marriage after age 50, there are some special considerations you should make.
1. How will the divorce affect your retirement? At 50 and older, you have less time to recover from a financially devastating divorce. This makes it that much more important to analyze various settlement options and pick the one with the least devastating long-term consequences and the least effect on your retirement.
2. How will the divorce impact your social network? By the time you’ve been married for a couple of decades, you probably have more shared friends than separate friends. The breakup of your marriage can mean the loss of a big portion of your social network. Find ways to develop friendships as your newly single self.
3. Are you eligible for part of your ex’s Social Security benefits? If you were married for at least ten years and you’re 62 or older, you may be eligible for as much as 50 percent of your spouse’s Social Security benefit—even their disability benefit, assuming they are entitled to it as well. For details, you can visit the Social Security Administration.
4. Should you change your beneficiaries? If your soon-to-be ex is the beneficiary of your life insurance policy or retirement accounts, you may want to change that and elect a new primary beneficiary. You could also form a trust and name it the beneficiary of your accounts.
5. Is it time to start over? The upheaval caused by a divorce gives you an opportunity to make giant changes in your life. You can move to a new state, pursue a new kind of career, and finally live life for yourself. Think about the kinds of changes you’d like to make and see if they’re reasonable for your budget.
Divorce may be the end of your life together, but it’s just the beginning of your life alone. It may be painful and sad, but after you grieve you might just find that your new life is something you really enjoy.