Financial Considerations for People Getting Divorced In Their 50s

by Gary Foreman

50-Something Couple Getting Divorced photo

There are some important financial considerations for people getting divorced in their 50s. Overlooking something important could be devastating both post-divorce and in retirement. Here’s what you need to consider before divorcing after age 50.

Susie hadn’t planned on getting divorced in her 50s, but it happened. And she must make sure that none of her financial matters fall through the cracks. Now is not the time to make major financial mistakes. There are some important financial considerations for people getting divorced in their 50s that younger people do not necessarily face.

We wanted to help her learn about what financial matters need to be considered when divorcing at 50+. To answer these questions, we interviewed Bill Kearney, President of Integrated Financial Concepts in Mooresville, NC. Mr. Kearney is a Series 65 Fiduciary and wealth manager.

Q: What’s the first thing that someone who gets divorced in their 50s needs to consider about their retirement plan?

Mr. Kearney: That’s a good question. I think it’s critical you understand the entire financial picture. Many households lean on one person (husband or wife) to do the majority of the financial management. So if you split and you’re not that person, you’re at a severe disadvantage. You need to know what you have as a couple, as well as what you’re entitled to after the split. This includes what you want, what you need, and what you lawfully ought to get. You should know, for instance, that assets acquired during the marriage are divided in accordance with laws that vary by state. Learn those laws and how they apply to you.

Seek out professional help if you come across something you don’t understand. And, if you don’t already know the role your spouse has played in handling your shared finances, find out. Then, educate yourself on those duties so that, post-divorce, you’ll be able to pick up his or her slack when you’re on your own. Taking the time to develop this level of fluency in your financial state of affairs is the best preparation for life after divorce. And it’s a great way to begin to position yourself for good financial health once the divorce process is done.

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Q: Married couples often rely on each other as caregivers. What should a single person do to cover that potential need?

Mr. Kearney: Find a trustworthy person or family you can depend on for support and care. Work out a payment strategy and put it in writing. Get legal advice before implementing a plan. An elder law attorney can steer you in the right direction. Perform comprehensive due diligence on the strategy and the person(s) before signing anything.

Q: It’s not uncommon for someone who’s divorced to forget to remove their ex as successors or beneficiaries. Could you list some of the documents that should be checked for changes?

Mr. Kearney:
– Your Will
– Life Insurance, Annuities, IRAs, 401ks, Pensions, TOD (transfer on death) brokerage accounts, etc.

Beneficiary designations supersede whatever is specified in your Will. Therefore, even if you have rewritten your Will, your wife or husband can still inherit those assets if you neglect to change all of your beneficiary designations.

Q: Is financial planning easier or more difficult for a married couple? A single divorced person?

Mr. Kearney: It’s definitely more difficult to plan for single, divorced people. Married people generally rely on each other in making financial decisions. Oftentimes, single people have someone of a completely different age group (like a parent). And if divorced, their trusted resource is in full “protect” mode with their friend. Generally, “single-divorced” is a red flag and not a client I would seek out.

Q: Are there any questions or problems in retirement planning that are unique to divorced persons?

Mr. Kearney: Divorced women generally have difficulty trusting people going forward. It can be very difficult to overcome this trust deficit.

Q: What’s the most common retirement planning mistake that people who get divorced in their 50s make?

Mr. Kearney: Forgetting to change beneficiaries (leaving their ex-spouse on documents). By far, this is the most common mistake I see.

If you neglect to address these important financial considerations for people getting divorced in their 50s, you could harm your financial health once the divorce process is done. Protect yourself by making sure you know how to manage and plan your finances before you are single again.

Reviewed January 2024

About the Author

Gary Foreman is the former owner and editor of the website and newsletter. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, and

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