Divorce rates for people over 60 have doubled over the past couple of decades. Typically those divorcing mention waiting for children to grow up and be on their own before making the decision to separate. Often retirement of one or both spouses cause the couple to confront the issues that have been simmering for years. Divorce may be the only solution some over 60’s see to years of growing apart.

Not The Shock It Once Was

Unlike previous generations where there was a tremendous stigma to divorce paired with a shorter life expectancy, today people in their 60’s feel freer to escape unsatisfying relationships. After all unlike a generation ago a marriage of people in their 60’s may continue another twenty or more years.

People who have endured years of emotional abandonment or verbal and physical abuse can find the courage to end a toxic marriage once the nest is empty and the workplace no longer offers a refuge. These divorces offer a real hope for personal growth.

Clarify Financial And Insurance Issues

As with all divorces, if the couple can be open and communicative they can make this time less uncomfortable. With these longer or later in life marriages the following issues need to be discussed if possible.

Ideally those who are contemplating divorce in the years just before retirement should refrain from dissolving a marriage until at least ten years into the legal relationship. This way the lower earning spouse will have the ability to choose a higher payment from Social Security, equalling half of the higher earner former spouse’s benefit with no impact upon that higher earner’s benefit. If they outlive the former spouse they can collect the entire benefit.

Health insurance costs can be daunting after 60, but if proper planning is done both spouses may take advantage of potentially lower premium coverage under COBRA for up to three years. COBRA extends employer health insurance, for a fee, after certain life events.

If one person is relying upon spousal maintenance or alimony from the ex-spouse it may be a good idea to purchase life insurance on that paying spouse for a continued source of income should death end the payments. It is also sensible to negotiate at the time of the divorce how to handle monthly maintenance payments once retirement ends regular wages. This will avoid the need for the parties to return to court when the quite predictable retirement happens.

Appraisal Of Personal Property And Real Estate

Let a professional help assess the value of non-cash possessions to help make the likely 50-50 division fairly painless. After a long marriage a lot of property, including priceless mementos with sentimental value, can accumulate. Rather than spending huge amounts of money fighting over these items try to discover ways to pass some of them along to children rather than splitting them up or other creative means to avoid needless acrimony.

How Did We Get Here?

People divorce at 30 or at 60 for largely the same reasons. Infidelity, sexual or emotional, and abuse are often at the core of a break up. Women and men sometimes report exhaustion at being everyone’s everything and yearn for a part of their remaining life centering around their own interests and desires for a change. If counselling and hard work on the relationship still do not result in a level of ease and joy it is no wonder that couples split in their 60’s and even later, hoping for some time of contentment and pursuit of interests.

Regrets And Challenges

Older people who divorce may miss the simple fact of having a companion, particularly as they face ill health and other loss in their lives. Jobs that take two people, like replacing the storm windows, now wait till the kids come home. A visit to the doctor happens solo, even if there are serious issues to discuss. Children may rejoice in the end of chronic fighting or may resent one or the other parent, or both, for changing their world even if they are well established adults themselves.

Even with these stresses most of those who initiate divorce after the age of 60 do not express regret, unless it is waiting so long to actually make the break. Obviously the spouse who did not seek the divorce may now see that behavioral patterns led to the dissolution and wish they had tried to change. Occasionally someone who departs for a different relationship that falls apart for its own reasons wants back in, but that rarely works out in the real world.

With caution and compassion a divorce after 60 can offer both spouses the chance for a new start. Make some good decisions and seek appropriate counsel to ensure the new start results in a rich life.