The media has coined the term “Grey Divorce” to refer to when divorce happens after the age of fifty. I don’t care for the term … I associate ‘grey’ with ‘old’ and that’s not how I feel but that’s besides the point. The point is that when you are midlife and facing the end of your marriage, the issues and challenges are different, some are heightened and compounded, the potential solutions are different and in reality, significant changes in lifestyle may be unavoidable.
Attorney Marlo Van Oorschot’s book, How to Survive Grey Divorce: What You Need to Know about Divorce After 50 spells out these issues and is a great starting point. Since everyone’s specific situation is different, it is impossible to find all the answers you need in a book – you absolutely must seek competent legal advice but I think one of the most effective ways of managing your legal expense is to educate yourself so your attorney isn’t having to start from scratch with you.
Van Oorschot points out that the distinction between the breadwinner and non-breadwinner spouse takes on much greater importance in Grey Divorce with the question of spousal support being more complex than the typically formulaic child support. She guides the reader through what factors affect spousal support and frankly it’s not a pretty picture. For people who are already retired re-entering the workforce may be impossible and if there are chronic health issues, it is more important than ever to see financial negotiations as business decisions–the less emotional you can be, the more rational your decision-making will be.
As with divorce at any age, you will no longer be eligible for health insurance benefits under your spouse’s coverage and thus the cost associated with new coverage, possibly an individual policy must be considered. If individual coverage is not available, then Van Oorschot recommends exploring other options to divorce, such as a legal separation.
One piece of information I learned that I had been only vaguely aware of before was that you may be able to claim derivative social security benefits once your former spouse starts claiming social security, if you were married for at least ten years and you are unmarried at the time of your claim. It can get quite complex but under current laws, you claiming derivative benefits has no impact on the benefit your former spouse receives so when it comes to negotiating the finances, it is in both parties’ interest to explore this option.
I also appreciated that How to Survive Grey Divorce: What You Need to Know about Divorce After 50 is written in plain, straight-forward English so you don’t have to worry about buying this and having to decipher a whole bunch of legal terms. It also a short book and a fairly quick easy. Both of these make this a great buy or gift for those facing mid-life divorce.