The past couple years have been hard on individuals, couples and families. Even with a slow but steady movement toward economic normalcy this year, many couples in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are struggling to move forward, or are deciding to call it quits altogether.
For couples who have been married for decades but can’t seem to get along anymore, the difficulties of the past year and a half may have caused them to reassess priorities and what they want for the future. Divorce after 50, called gray divorce, has skyrocketed globally, and the primary reasons that couples choose this route are:
- Reassessing the future in mid-life once the children have left home
- The rise of female independent earners means that many women no longer must stay in an unsatisfying marriage for financial security or spousal health benefits
- Putting up with their current partner may seem unbearable with longer life expectancy among over half of middle-aged couples
The financial risks of gray divorce
While the emotional toll is significant for couples who have shared much of their lives together, the financial risks of separating go up the longer their finances have comingled. In order for both sides to land on good footing as they head toward the future, it is essential to make informed decisions that will help them to avoid perilous financial risks.
First, when deciding on the terms or the waiving of spousal support, it is important to look at the future earning potential of both spouses, as income-earning sources dry up as middle-aged wage-earners face stiff competition from a younger workforce. The financial challenges of raising a minor child or paying for college come into focus as tuition fees or child support needs fall due.
Looking at combined retirement accounts and deciding how to split them while avoiding the tax implications of early withdrawal is essential, especially when considering that this comingled nest egg will be halved in divorce. Health insurance restrictions can compromise a healthcare plan that hinges on employer benefits or Medicare and Medicaid eligibility. It may be wise to consider bridging the gap with COBRA or ACA insurance.
The path forward can become simpler and less fraught for the families of feuding spouses who have finally laid their grievances to rest. While mental capacity issues or addictions can impair divorcées who grow isolated, residents of Harrisburg and surrounding areas will have opportunities to resolve their marital bitterness to pursue other goals later in life. The gift of securing their financial needs post-divorce, however, can ensure the ex-spouses’ individual futures while also helping the whole family to heal.