Earlier this month, our Birmingham divorce lawyers told you about the so-called "grey divorce revolution," wherein a growing number of couples have been divorcing later in life — sometimes after spending decades together.
It's a topic worth revisiting as we enter the holiday season. The holidays, for better or worse, have a way of causing us to reflect on the past and re-evaluate our future path. The holidays also tend to be very family-focused. That means the hurts, disappointments and other problems regarding a marriage that one might have been able to ignore throughout the normal course of the year come bubbling to the surface around this time.
For people who are over the age of 50, many have the added complexity of a newly empty nest. All those years, the children may have been the glue that was holding a couple together. With them gone, a pair may find that they simply aren't compatible. It was true all year long, or perhaps for many years, but it becomes especially evident during the holidays. And the start of a new year reminds us that every year is precious, and we don't want to continue living it alongside someone with whom we are no longer happy.
And it's not simply men leaving their wives. In fact, when it comes to splits among people over the age of 50, two-thirds of breakups are initiated by the women. That's because, frankly, they can. For a long time, women had little choice about whether to stay because they were financially dependent on their husbands. This is no longer true. When they reach a point when their marriage isn't working anymore, they're not apt to stay.
Some would argue that if you've been with someone for an extended period of time and have children and grandchildren together, it may be worth it to attend counseling and see if it's possible to make it work. That's because on some level, unlike a so-called "starter marriage," this person is going to be in your life in some capacity for the rest of your life (weddings, graduations, birthdays, etc.).
On the other hand, if you have reached your breaking point with the union and are ready to move on, this is where it becomes critical to have an experienced divorce lawyer.
If you have built a life together for many decades, untangling all of that can take time. You have to consider not only how physical assets will be divided, but retirement money, pension, Social Security. There are tax considerations. There may be debts that need to be equitably divided.
One of the first things you need to do is make yourself aware of what your joint financial situation is BEFORE you file. In a lot of households, it's not uncommon for one person to be in control of the bills and finances. But it's important you be informed about your marital finances. Make sure you know all of the accounts that are open in your spouse's name and that you have joint access to all funds. If your spouse is involved in a business, have a general idea of those financials as well.
Secondly, you'll want to plan for the future. This means knowing where you and your spouse stand in terms of the pensions and 401(k) plans. You may be entitled to a portion of your spouse's retirement accounts and pensions. Make sure that in addition to having it all spelled out in the divorce agreement that you also obtain a qualified domestic relations order.
And finally, when all is said and done, revisit your life insurance plan, pension beneficiaries and will. These will likely all need to be redrawn, at least to some extent, after the divorce.
If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.
Coping With a Grey Divorce, Nov. 20, 2012, By Lubov Stark, The Huffington Post