The Pew Research Center has determined that the number of couples engaging in so-called “grey divorce” has doubled over the last quarter-century. This means that here in British Columbia, the over-50 demographic has embraced divorce in later life, usually as a result of looking toward retirement age and a considerably longer life expectancy. However, the financial implications of a late-life divorce are unique and, in some cases, even more prevalent than they are for younger people.
The longer a couple is married, the more mutual assets they accrue. This is especially true of shared retirement plans as well as the question of inheritance when it comes to grown children from one or more marriages. In fact, the financial implications of a divorce are sometimes so involved it prompts the couple to simply live separately, rather than pursue a formal end to their marriage.
However, this may not be the best move for older couples. Failure to formalize a divorce could result in one spouse becoming responsible for debts accrued by the other spouse, even if they have been living apart for years. If one spouse passes away without an updated estate plan reflecting a divorced status, the surviving spouse might automatically inherit their estate. It is for these reasons, among others, that a formalized divorce could be a better choice for an elderly couple intending to live apart permanently.
Divorce is challenging at any stage in life, but the unique challenges faced by divorcing couples over the age of 50 sometimes require equally unique support. Seeking out such support in the form of experienced divorce attorneys for each spouse here in British Columbia may seem like an unnecessary step to some. However, the alternative could lead to a less enjoyable retirement, and everyone deserves to enjoy their golden years.