It won’t end with Bill and Melinda Gates. Get ready for the end of more marriages

1 year ago 158

After steadily rising for decades, wide divorcement rates successful the United States deed a 50-year debased successful 2019. While matrimony advocates are celebrating the diminution successful breached unions, their joyousness whitethorn beryllium short-lived. 

Divorce rates are expected to spike again successful the aftermath of the pandemic. After spending 24/7 together — with small extracurricular societal interaction coupled with the financial, affectional and carnal accent of the pandemic — immoderate couples are taking a hard look astatine their marriage. For definite empty-nesters, the pandemic was a preview of what status with their spouse mightiness look like, and they didn’t similar what they saw. 

Recently, respective of our fiscal advisers person reported a noticeable uptick successful calls inquiring astir the fiscal implications of divorce. Many of those calls are from clients successful their 50s and above. These later-in-life dissolutions, similar the highly publicized Bill and Melinda French Gates split, are known arsenic “gray divorces” and they are connected the rise. 

Read: What you request to cognize astir ending a agelong marriage

Since the 1990s, the divorcement complaint for adults 50 and older successful the U.S. has astir doubled, according to findings from the Pew Research Center. In fact, for adults 65 and older, the divorcement complaint has tripled over that aforesaid play and is adjacent worse for remarriages.   

Demographics, societal changes and the pandemic person each contributed to the trend. People are surviving longer, women are much financially empowered, and the stigma of divorcement has lessened. A steadfast 65-year-old tin expect to unrecorded different 20-plus years, and women typically unrecorded 5 further years. Many look up and determine this is simply a agelong clip to walk successful an unhappy marriage.  

However, a later-life divorcement is analyzable and requires cautious fiscal planning. As with the Gates divorce, decades of gathering wealthiness and raising a household marque it much challenging to disagreement assets successful a mutually agreed upon and equitable manner. For astir divorcing couples, hiring an experienced lawyer to correspond and support each individual’s involvement is wise, particularly since divorcement laws and security laws alteration from authorities to state. 

When reasoning astir the fiscal considerations, determination are 3 areas to absorption on: 

1) Tackling the large questions 

Absent a prenup, determination are respective large questions that volition aboveground close away. If a mates tin hold connected these areas, it volition assistance expedite the substance and prevention connected lawyer fees.    

  • If children are inactive successful the picture, what are your wishes regarding custody, visitation, kid support, healthcare and acquisition funding? 
  • Do you person big children expecting enactment for weddings oregon assistance with the acquisition of a archetypal home? How are funds acceptable speech for this benignant of commitment?
  • Do you gain capable wealth to adequately enactment yourself, oregon should alimony beryllium considered? 
  • What and wherever are each the fiscal assets and however are they titled? Which assets bash you want, and which are you consenting to fto your spouse keep? Make definite you person an plus inventory and you recognize the worth of each asset. 
  • Are determination status plans for each spouse?
  • Is determination capable wealth to wage immoderate outstanding indebtedness connected immoderate assets you keep?
  • How bash you consciousness astir the household home? Do you consciousness powerfully astir surviving there, oregon should it beryllium sold oregon allotted to your spouse?
  • Are determination abstracted oregon idiosyncratic assets of each spouse, including spot funds and inheritances? How does authorities instrumentality impact the interaction of abstracted oregon inherited assets erstwhile determining alimony oregon the part of property? 

2) Definite do’s and don’ts  

Divorce is an emotional, highly charged beingness modulation that often leads to rash and unwise decisions. Here are immoderate definite do’s and don’ts erstwhile it comes to your finances: 

  • Do hole a fiscal program and fund to assistance usher you until your divorcement is last
  • Do reappraisal monthly slope and fiscal statements and marque copies for your attorney 
  • Do reappraisal each taxation returns that person been filed jointly oregon separately and marque definite each taxes person been paid to date 
  • Do get assistance from a fiscal adviser, particularly if you don’t presently person the skills and vigor to bash this connected your own 
  • Don’t marque ample purchases oregon make further indebtedness that mightiness aboriginal origin fiscal hardship 
  • Don’t discontinue your occupation oregon determination retired of the location earlier consulting your fiscal advisor and attorney 
  • Don’t transportation oregon springiness distant assets that are owned jointly   

3) Sometimes overlooked (financial considerations) 

In a grey divorce, determination are often further fiscal considerations that whitethorn beryllium overlooked. Being alert of these considerations volition assistance you deliberation comprehensively astir your settlement.  


Nearly each fiscal determination you marque and each plus you person comes with a taxation bill. Understanding the taxation implications is important, truthful beryllium definite to consult an accountant oregon taxation advisor to find what makes the astir consciousness for your concern earlier divvying up assets. Also retrieve that alimony is nary longer deductible for the spouse paying it, and it’s not taxable to the idiosyncratic receiving it. Child enactment payments aren’t taxable, either. 


Life security often plays a cardinal role, particularly if determination was a financially babelike spouse. Naming your ex-spouse arsenic beneficiary whitethorn beryllium required arsenic portion of your divorce. As alimony terminates connected the decease of the payer, beingness security whitethorn beryllium utilized arsenic a instrumentality to warrant a watercourse of income if the alimony-paying spouse passes. The divorcement decree volition often necessitate beingness security connected the idiosyncratic paying alimony and/or kid enactment successful the lawsuit of their death. Disability and long-term-care security are besides considerations for post-divorce emergencies and should beryllium addressed if due successful the divorcement settlement.     

Retirement assets 

Retirement assets that person accumulated implicit 25-plus years tin correspond a important portion of a couple’s wealth. Splitting status assets comes with immoderate peculiar considerations — and often a 2nd step. A qualified home relations order, or QDRO, is typically utilized to disagreement definite leader status and pension plans. A QDRO recognizes associated martial involvement successful the status assets, giving the ex-spouse a stock of those assets.   

Social Security  

If you’ve been successful a matrimony that’s longer than 10 years and get divorced, you’re mostly entitled to fractional of your spouse’s Social Security, providing that the payment is greater than what you would suffice for, and that you stay unmarried. You indispensable beryllium property 62 oregon older and if you record anterior to afloat status property (FRA); you volition person reduced benefits for tapping Social Security earlier your FRA.   

If you suffice for your ain Social Security, but the magnitude is lower, you will get an further magnitude up to the 50% spousal benefit. If your ex-spouse is deceased, you are eligible for the aforesaid subsister benefits arsenic existent spouses, which means you could person the afloat magnitude of your ex’s benefits. Note that your erstwhile spouse doesn’t person to beryllium collecting his oregon her status benefits yet for you to assertion ex-spousal benefits. However, if this is the case, the divorcement indispensable beryllium astatine slightest 2 years old. 

Employer banal options 

If either spouse works for a corporation, determination whitethorn beryllium leader banal incentives that volition necessitate further investigation earlier these assets tin beryllium divvied up. Valuing banal options is complex, arsenic they typically person vesting periods, unsocial taxation considerations and transportation assorted risks, including marketplace and employment risk. Often firm executives volition get afloat entree to their options astatine retirement, which is different constituent to consider. As the worth of the banal oregon enactment typically fluctuates implicit time, it is important to recognize the risk-reward and trade-offs erstwhile determining the value.        

Estate matters 

While the divorcement is ongoing, your spouse has definite rights. Make definite you conscionable your ineligible obligations portion exercising arsenic overmuch power implicit your assets arsenic possible. There are a fewer things you tin bash anterior to the divorce, but you should update your property program arsenic soon arsenic legally possible. For example, you volition privation to update your healthcare proxy, powerfulness of lawyer and will, alteration beneficiaries connected your status accounts and beingness insurance, retitle assets and amend your trust. Estate readying is besides indispensable earlier you remarry successful bid to support and sphere assets for your children and grandchildren. 

Financial implications for women 

Women look unsocial fiscal headwinds. They often gain little than men and commencement status with smaller amounts saved and little Social Security benefits, truthful they tin beryllium successful a peculiarly precarious presumption aft a divorce. When coupled with a later-life divorce, the fiscal result tin beryllium disastrous, particularly for women who were superior caregivers to the children.   

According to a study from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, women’s household income fell by 41% pursuing a divorcement oregon separation aft property 50, portion men lone had a 23% drop. With women surviving longer than men, that dip successful income tin person superior consequences. With divorce being specified an emotionally and financially challenging clip with a batch of important decisions to beryllium made, easing the load with trusted ineligible and fiscal proposal volition assistance you instrumentality a broad attack to this important beingness modulation and consciousness much unafraid astir your future.   

Angie O’Leary is caput of Wealth Planning astatine RBC Wealth Management-U. S.

RBC Wealth Management, a part of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC. 

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