Your divorce can open up new opportunities to chase your dreams.

How to Get Divorced After 40 Years of Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Couples over 50 are the fasting growing divorce demographic, which has more than doubled since 1990, according to research professor Pamela Smock at the Population Studies Center, as cited in “The Wall Street Journal” article, “'Til 40 Years Do Us Part” by Jeffrey Zaslow. Specific concerns exist when considering whether to divorce during your gray years and becoming a “Gray Divorcee" -- a term that describes divorcing Baby Boomers.

Financial Considerations

When you divorce after 40 years of marriage, dividing your marital property is a major concern, according to divorce financial consultant Jeff Landers in “Financial Tips for Women Facing Grey Divorce” for “Forbes.” A judge could force the sale of your business or require you to buy out your husband to split the assets. A specialist in domestic relations can help you and your spouse divide retirement benefits fairly, and provide the necessary information to the pension plan administrator for the correct payout. This must occur at the time of the divorce to ensure correct access to the funds. Consider retaining sufficient cash assets if you need funds for living expenses, suggests Landers.

Legal Considerations

If you don’t want your ex to inherit any of your estate, remember to change the beneficiary on your insurance policies, suggests Landers. You also need to change your medical power of attorney and other legal documents that give your ex control of your life. Your family law attorney might assist you with these matters as a part of your divorce process.

Your Children

Your children will find your divorce upsetting, according to Erica Manfred, in “The Kids Are Never Grown” on the Huffington Post. Speak honestly with them about the divorce and reassure them that they are not to blame for the split. Avoid involving them in the divorce. They don’t need to become your confidants or take sides. Expect them to have difficulty during holidays and family events -- especially if one of you begins to date or remarries.

Planning for Life After Divorce

After the divorce is final, you might need to liquidate some of your assets to cover living expenses. Consider your long-term financial goals and your current expenses when making a budget, suggests Landers. Your longer life expectancy puts you are greater risk for poverty and could require applying for government assistance, according to Heidi Hartmann at the Institute for Women's Policy Research, as cited in “Life After Divorce” for the AARP, by Sally Abrahms. If you are over retirement age, you can file for Social Security benefits based on your ex-husband’s earnings, even if he remarries -- and without affecting his benefits, according to attorney Allan R. Manka in “Tips For Couples Going Through Gray Divorces.” This option is available to you because you were married to him for more than 10 years. To qualify, your benefits must be less than his. If he dies, you could get 100 percent of his benefits, if those benefits are more than yours.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

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