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Two Costly Mistakes to Avoid with a Gray Divorce

Law Blog

Divorce is not just something young people do. Gray divorces happen every day. Gray divorces have their own unique challenges that divorces involving younger couples do not. If you are at or near retirement age and are divorcing, here are some mistakes you should avoid to avoid financial problems after the divorce is final.  

Keeping the Family Home

Some seniors are reluctant to let go of their family homes because they have lived in them for decades. Unfortunately, holding onto your family home could have dire financial consequences. Now that you are single again, you have to reconsider your ability to take care of the home alone.  

Outside of the actual physical maintenance that comes with owning a home, you also have to think about the financial upkeep. For instance, can you afford to pay the property taxes or emergency repairs without the financial help of your spouse? Property taxes can increase from year to year, and what you can pay now might not be enough later. You also have to consider that retirement could mean a decrease in your income.  

To avoid a financial crisis, you need to be honest in your assessment of whether or not you can take care of the home. Work closely with your financial planner to determine whether keeping it is financially responsible.  

Skipping a Credit Report

Depending on the state in which you live, divorcing your spouse does not necessarily mean that you will be free of his or her debts. If you stay in a community property state, you could be liable for your spouse's debt even though you are divorced.  

The best way to protect yourself from the unknown and unwanted calls and other legal actions from creditors is to obtain a credit report for both you and your spouse. The credit reports will give you a chance to learn what accounts your spouse has that could have a bearing on you.  

If you fail to obtain a credit report, creditors could take actions against you. Some states allow retirement funds to be garnished to apply toward settlements reached in court. If your spouse ends up filing for bankruptcy on debts that you both owe, you could end up having to pay the entire debt yourself. 

Divorcing at or near retirement needs the same attention to detail that other divorces do. Taking the time to work with a divorce lawyer to identify special issues that might apply to your situation can help you put in place the necessary safeguards to protect yourself and your financial future.


9 January 2017