Sunday, May 15, 2016

How to Protect Yourself in Divorce Over 50

As Baby Boomers reach middle age and beyond, many will experience a divorce occurring late in life.  That timing can create special problems.  Getting a routine divorce and splitting everything in half may seem like an acceptable outcome, but it may not be.

My suggestion is to look into using Collaborative Law.  Because a Collaborative divorce is focused on the goals and needs of the parties, you will automatically be starting in a better position. Rather than mechanically dividing everything in half, Collaborative gives you the opportunity to craft a customized divorce agreement that can benefit both parties.  Do yourself a favor and talk with a Collaborative attorney before you get started.

Here are some suggestions if you are facing a "gray divorce":

1.  Don't blow things up.  Don't start off by attacking your spouse or trying to punish him/her for past transgressions.  Your aggressive moves will probably be met by equally aggressive moves and things will escalate.  You will be much  better off, and save money, if you don't start off in battle mode.

2.  Work with a counselor.  This is a good way to keep a lid on it.  A therapist can help you deal with the natural anger that often occurs in divorce.  Having a rational, experienced person on your side to listen to you vent and to make helpful suggestions is extremely valuable.

3.  Get a job or training, if you need to.  Coming out of a divorce, both spouses normally have to work. If you've been out of the workforce for a few years, or a lot of years, you probably will need some education to sharpen and update your skills.  If you need to put off starting the divorce so that you can go  to school on community funds, do it if you can.  There will always be less money once you separate, so do what you can while you are together.

4.  Gather all the financial records that you can.  Make copies and keep them in a secure place.  Don't destroy or hide the original records.  Just get copies of the last 2-3 years of bank and credit card statements, as well as tax returns, insurance policies, mortgage records and any other significant records you can uncover.

5.  Make a plan for yourself.  Identify needs and goals that will be important to you after the divorce. Work on a financial plan, including a budget, early on.  You may need to work with a financial planner who can help you understand your assets, liabilities and possibilities.  Also, create a network of family and friends who can support you emotionally as you go through the process.  You need to work with a counselor, but friends are also invaluable.  Don't forget to consider your kids, even the adult ones.  They can have a good relationship with both parents post divorce and you should not be trying to sabotage it.

The most important step, if you are over 50 and facing a divorce, is to consult with a Collaborative Lawyer as early as possible.  Do as much advance preparation as possible to improve your outcome. Good luck!

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