How to Survive — and Thrive — After a Divorce
The desire to follow our passions and find excitement in life doesn’t dissipate as we age.
In recent years, I’ve met with many seniors who are still eager to expand their horizons. Whether it’s traveling the world or keeping up with family and friends, seniors today feel that their age should not require them to settle for disappointment. Sometimes, couples can find this passion together, but many women feel their partners have become obstacles to enjoying their later years.
The number of “gray” divorces is on the rise, and many couples are facing the unique challenges of splitting up after a long life together. While it can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.
Making a Healthy Break
When trying to make a smooth transition out of married life, there are three areas that older divorcées must consider:
First, if you’re getting out of a long-term marriage, remember that most courts will grant alimony. Younger couples often have temporary arrangements that allow the lower-earning spouses to get back on track. However, when you end a longer marriage, alimony obligations tend to last for life.
Also remember that attorneys usually choose to divide retirement funds and other financial assets equally, meaning you will likely have less money than you did when you were together. If you rely on a pension or Social Security, you will need to make plans for how to establish a stable lifestyle after divorce.
Finally, there’s the marital home — often the most valuable asset on the line during a divorce. Unfortunately, the value of marital homes for long-term couples can be hard to establish. They tend to drop in value over time, leading to less money to split between the parties.
Divorce is never easy, and when you’ve been married for much of your adult life, separation can be even more complicated. But that’s not the end of the story. There are many ways to deal with the transition and even bounce back stronger than ever.
1. Pay attention to your insurance. Make sure to consider the costs of separate life, health, and property insurance. These costs add up, so if you are on the receiving end of alimony, be sure to get policies that protect you financially if anything happens to your ex-husband.
2. Create a financial game plan. With less money than you had before the divorce, you will need to plan and budget carefully to ensure you can fully enjoy life. Calculate the amount of money needed for all necessary expenses. Then see what kind of wiggle room you have for the extras.
3. Consider furnished housing. Furnished rentals are on the rise, and finding a temporary residence can help you find a stable life post-divorce. Good furnished homes have living necessities such as linens, appliances, kitchens, and cleaning supplies. Most will also include utilities such as gas, electricity, and water. Short-term rentals provide flexible lease terms, making it easy to land on your feet while you figure out a more permanent solution.
4. Connect with your neighbors. In addition to financial challenges, senior divorcees could face loneliness and loss of social support from family and friends. If you are looking to live independently, why not link up with a neighbor? You and your neighbors can share the costs of home repairs and transportation by forming a village or an independent senior living community. You can live independently while still forming close friendships with other seniors after your divorce.
Divorce isn’t the end of the road for younger women, and it doesn’t have to be for senior women, either. If you and your spouse choose to divorce, there are many ways for you to continue to thrive. It just takes a little planning and community.
David Adams is the founder of HomeSuite, an online marketplace for temporary furnished housing that uses technology, data, and customer service to provide the best possible experience for tenants and landlords. Connect with David on Twitter.