Here are some tips from Ian Shann – a lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in the field and now a trusted family mediator in Perth – on how to prepare for grey divorce.

What Is A Grey Divorce?

The term “grey divorce” refers to couples over 50 years of age who divorce.

Numbers of grey divorces are on the increase in Australia.

Although divorce can be a traumatic and painful event for people of all age groups, it can present a unique set of challenges for older couples, who may be approaching retirement or are already retired. One of the biggest challenges is the financial impact of separation.

Coming off a long-term marriage the asset pool accumulated over the years tends to be greater. There may have been enough in the kitty to enjoy their golden years together but, now that the asset pool is to be divided between them and their earning capacities are generally lower, the future may not look quite so rosy.

These situations are often complicated and demand professional legal and financial assistance.

How To Prepare For Grey Divorce

Complete a Financial Audit

At the top of your list of things to do should be preparation of a spreadsheet, valuing all your assets and liabilities. Real estate, savings, insurance policies, businesses, superannuation and all other assets and liabilities. This will give you a good indication of the general financial position.

If you have been relying on your spouse to handle all the finances and are in the dark, there has never been a better time to learn than right now.

Draw Up a Current & Future Budget

The next step would be to draw up a budget to establish what your future living needs and expenses are and how much might be available to meet those expenses. Much will depend on whether you remain in the family home or relocate elsewhere and what portion of the asset pool you’ll be entitled to.

Review Your Estate Planning

Most married people have their spouses as beneficiaries in their wills and insurance policies, giving them power of attorney and rights over their medical treatment. These need to be reviewed and, where necessary, new documents drawn up to reflect your new situation.

Grey Divorce & Superannuation

Superannuation forms part of the asset pool to be split between divorcing partners (except, be careful of the laws in Western Australia regarding the treatment of superannuation of de facto couples). These issues get decided by the Family Court if parties cannot get them resolved at mediation or between themselves.

Get Support From Others

Starting life as a single person after a long marriage can be extremely stressful. It can often lead to isolation, depression and other medical conditions.

Make sure you remain socially active and in regular contact with family and close friends, more so now than ever before. If you’re still battling, consider professional help. There is no need to go through this all on your own.

Grey Divorce Factors to Consider

You don’t want to waste time

The end of your marriage may be the end of an era, but it’s also the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Once the decision to divorce has been made, try not to dwell too much on the past, wasting valuable time and prolonging the transition.  

You don’t want to waste money

Long drawn out divorces are costly affairs that end up wasting money on legal fees that could have remained in the asset pool and divided between the spouses. When preparing for your grey divorce, remain focused on trying to seek an amicable and quick settlement.

Do you have significant assets to divide?

The division of significant assets, such as the family home, investment properties, vehicles, furniture and belongings that have been acquired over a long period of time can be a complicated affair. Apart from monetary value, some assets may have significant emotional value, making the process even more complex.  

Unfortunately, that is something only you and your spouse can agree upon, unless a Binding Financial Agreement has been drawn up listing as to who gets what. The family law requires that any division of assets be fair and equitable.

Will you have enough money to live comfortably in retirement?

This is often the burning question. If a Binding Financial Agreement is in place, you will have a pretty good idea of your future financial situation. If not, do not hesitate to seek professional legal and financial assistance to help you reach a fair and equitable settlement.

If you’re unable to maintain yourself and your spouse can afford it, you may be entitled to spousal support.

Consider Family Mediation

Family mediation, is by far the quickest, least stressful, least expensive and most efficient way to resolve financial settlement on separation,.

Instead of both spouses paying their own lawyers to fight cases in the Family Court for months or years, family mediation is a much simpler, quicker and less expensive process.

in family mediation, the family mediator may offer general legal guidance to both spouses, explaining their legal rights and obligations, and allowing them to carve out a settlement between themselves that they can both live with.

Get in touch with Ian to find out more about family mediation in Perth and how we can help you move on.

Want to know how much family mediation will cost? Have a look at our family mediation fees now.