The kids have moved out of the house, you are on the verge of retirement, and you are entering a new phase in your life. You might be wondering if that new life should or should not include your husband. You are not the only one that has questioned whether or not divorce should be on the table after more than 30 years of marriage. But, the idea of starting over after the age of 50 may seem terrifying.
Like with most major life choices, planning ahead is key if you decide to start the divorce process. By putting certain things in motion and preparing yourself emotionally and mentally, you will be able to thrive after a gray divorce.
If you have spent the last 30 or more years managing the household, you may know what bills you need to pay, but you may not know the full extent of the assets that you and your husband own. Now is the time to sit down with a financial planner and look at what you and your husband own and what you might get as part of a divorce settlement. For example, you will want to know what the value is of your home in Denver as well as any retirement and investment accounts and any other property the two of you own. By obtaining copies or prior year tax returns, you can get a good idea of what assets you might be entitled to.
Decide where to live
Now that you have your finances in order, it is time to decide where to live. Would it be better to sell the house and move into a smaller place or should you keep it? After spending more than half of your life living with someone else, the idea of living alone may be difficult to contemplate. Not only should you take the time to adjust to the idea, it is also important to look at the financial and legal consequences of keeping the house or selling it.
Plan for the next stage
As we get older, caregiving becomes more of a reality. If your husband had taken the lead on planning for the next stage of your lives, it is time for you to pick of the reins and make sure you have a plan in place for your future. This means it is time to update your will and get other estate planning tools in the mix. In addition, you will need to address the issue of possible long-term care when you can no longer care for yourself. This might include selecting an assisted living facility or finding a source for in-home care.
After divorce, things are going to change when it comes to family gatherings. For example, Thanksgiving could be a little awkward for you and your adult children. Even if you and your husband split on very amicable terms, the grankids' birthday parties could still feel weird if you are both there. Give it time and let things settle. Everyone involved will eventually get used to the new dynamic and the awkwardness will fade.
If you are considering divorce later in life, you should begin the planning process as soon as possible so that you can more easily adjust to your new situation. Your attorney, financial planner, accountant and therapist can help you transition into your new life.