In Season 3, Episode 1, we invited lawyer and author Alice Mantel to speak about some of the issues facing people who chose to divorce in their senior years. Here’s a transcription of her talk….
Hi, I’m Alice Mantel, author of Every Woman’s Guide to Retirement talking to you today about divorce on Baby Boomers Guide to Life in the 21st Century.
Did you know that the fastest growing group of divorcees is people over the age of 50? Grey divorce is on the rise in Australia and worldwide today. Over a quarter of all divorce petitions are for those who have been married for 20 years, or longer representing a doubling of the divorce rate since 1990.
There are probably many reasons for this increase in divorces.
Amongst older people, there is a significant increase in life expectancy, divorce, becoming more socially acceptable, more women joining the workforce and becoming financially independent as well as women becoming more focused on self-fulfilment and personal happiness.
Unfortunately, research shows that divorce after a long-term marriage can take a particularly serious financial and emotional toll on old women, even where it was an unhappy marriage, and even assuming you have had an applicable split and divided any property up fairly, it can still be difficult to start again.
If you are facing a divorce in later life you will need to set up all your own financial and legal arrangements in your own name, closing down any joint accounts.
Details to recover include banking, superannuation, health insurance investments, social media accounts, donations to charities, credit cards, car registration, the electoral roll.
If you change your address advise Services Australia and Centrelink, and don’t forget to change your will and any executors or beneficiaries as well as your Power of Attorney and Guardianship documents.
With all these obstacles, it is not surprising that sometimes older couples opt to stay together in a marriage on paper only, for example, by taking separate bedrooms in the family house or partitioning the house so that each has their own space.