The divorce rate for Floridians over 50 has doubled in the last 20 years.  Couples can divorce later in life for the same reasons younger couples split up. But when you’re over 50, these reasons are framed by aging and the realization that you have more years behind you than ahead of you.

While there might be differences in the emotional impact of a ‘grey divorce’, the biggest difference is that there is less time to recover financially. If you’re filing for divorce later in life (or are just considering it), there are 8 common mistakes you want to avoid.

8 Common Divorce Mistakes To Avoid

1. Failing to Know What You Own

Often one partner has a better understanding of a couple’s finances than the other. If you’ve been relying on your partner to handle the family finances, you need to make an inventory of all assets before attempting to split them up. In addition to knowing what’s in your bank accounts, you should also track your retirement accounts, social security payments if you’re over 65, and life insurance policies.

2. Overlooking Assets 

Pensions: Don’t forget to include any part of a pension that was earned during the marriage. According to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (IDFA), there are three methods of doing this:

  1. The non-employee spouse can receive their share of a future benefit.
  2. The pension can be present valued and offset.
  3. Both (1) and (2) can be combined.

When choosing your solution, be sure to balance your immediate and future needs. What good does it do you to look forward to a good pension down the road if you need the cash to survive now?

Retirement Benefits: Social Security Retirement Benefits: If you are age 62 or older and divorced from a spouse who is entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, you may be still able to receive benefits based on their records, if you meet certain requirements.12

3. Failing to Know What You Owe

You marry for better or worse and debts are part of the package.  Debts acquired during the marriage are typically treated as marital property in Florida divorce cases. Therefore, debts will be divided 50/50, unless there are reasons why an equal split would be inequitable (unfair). As you did with your assets, you need to create an inventory of all debts and liabilities. Your spouse may have incurred debts without your knowledge and you need to know what you will be responsible for before making this critical decision. 

4. Failing to Know What You Need

When the income that once covered one set of household expenses is suddenly divided by two, you may have to make some changes to your spending to afford your daily and monthly expenses. Take a realistic look at how much money you’ll need to live on, and make sure you can cover all of your expenses after the divorce without relying on your ex.

5. Failing to Be Honest: Hiding Assets From Your Spouse

In divorces for which a lot of money is at stake, you may be tempted to hide assets, so it looks like you have less money to contribute. Doing this could set you up for legal troubles plus legal fees and court time if the assets are found. Some of the repercussions for hiding assets from your spouse include a settlement that will give your spouse additional assets, a contempt-of-court ruling, or fraud or perjury charges.

6. Failing to Remember About Health Insurance

If your spouse’s policy has covered you, you may be in for a nasty—and expensive—surprise, especially if you divorce before Medicare kicks in at age 65.

Basically, there are three options:

  1. Your employer can cover you
  2. You can sign up for your state’s healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act
  3. You can continue to use your ex’s existing coverage through COBRA for up to 36 months. But be aware that the cost is likely to be substantially more than it was before the divorce.

If new, separate health insurance policies threaten to break the bank, you may want to consider a legal separation. Under certain circumstances, you can keep your ex’s health insurance while separating your other assets.

7. Failing to Assemble a Smart Team to Help You

Do you need a divorce attorney? Here’s a good article on when to hire an attorney or when to go it alone.  An experienced Family Law Attorney can help you navigate the possible minefields and guide you to the other team members you might need; a financial planner, insurance agent, even a good therapist if necessary.

Before selecting an attorney, call our office at 305-653-5555. You will always speak with an attorney for your Free consultation.

Why Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti? From one of our clients?

From the initial consultation with Mr. Martin Hoffman, I knew I was in good hands. My attorney was Mr. John Agnetti because it was a divorce case. John is a compassionate and highly competent attorney. He and his staff were very responsive, not just to me as the client, but also to the court with filings. I am a paralegal; I KNOW lawyers. Early on in the case, I was so impressed with John that I asked his office for business cards so I could give them to our clients, or anyone, in need of a family law referral. The divorce took a little over two years, but I could not have asked for a better outcome and I owe all of that to John. I hope I never have to go through another divorce, but if I do, I’m calling John.”  J, 2021