How to cope with retirement and divorce at the same time

Sep 24, 2023
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Retirement and divorce can be two of the most stressful transitions of your life. So how on earth do you cope when faced with retirement and divorce at the same time?

Trusted family lawyer in Perth and expert contributor, Ella Hickman, shares her insights into how to cope with retirement and divorce at the same time.

Lean on your support network

Finding yourself single whilst in or close to retirement, particularly after a long marriage, can be a most traumatic and stressful event for anyone to handle. Having to deal with the legalities of the divorce, whilst also deciding whether or where to move, how you’ll support yourself and how the divorce will affect your relationships with your children, grandchildren and your friends, can leave you confused, overwhelmed and afraid. It may even be worse if you have not initiated or did not want the divorce.

Whatever the case, having a reliable support network to lean on is crucial to surviving a grey divorce. Remaining connected to family members and close friends during this process and beyond even for just moral and emotional support, is vital in retaining or regaining your self-esteem to get you through this painful period in your life.

Conduct a financial audit

Whilst dealing with divorce at any age has its challenges, people in retirement with little or no earning capacity are faced with added financial implications, as they do not have time to start all over again. This often leaves them with little choice but to reconsider their retirement plans.

The first step would be to conduct a financial audit of your current situation to know where you stand before you can begin to consider your options. By listing your income and assets and drawing up a budget of your future anticipated lifestyle, you’ll have a good indication of what you need to plan for.

Consult a financial planner

Consulting a financial planner as early as possible before making any financial decisions can be very helpful. A financial planner will advise you on matters such as whether you can afford to keep the family home, sell your share to your former spouse and downsize, or whether your income will be sufficient to survive as a single person. Financial planners will also advise you as to whether you’re entitled to a higher state pension as a single person, or can qualify for any other government support payments.

Trying to figure out all this on your own, especially during these times when the price of everything is rising at alarming levels, is not an easy thing to do. Whatever you do, ensure that you don’t make any uninformed decisions. The more information you have, the more confidence and peace of mind you’ll have that you’re making the right decisions for your future.

 Reduce your debts and expenses

With many divorces, a drop in living standards can occur for both ex-spouses and certain lifestyle changes are bound to be expected.

Regardless of your financial situation, it’s wise to monitor your cash flow and reduce or even eliminate your debts while maintaining a healthy credit rating.

Review your superannuation

Superannuation is usually a big factor in many grey divorces that needs serious consideration and review. In many cases, superannuation may be the main or even the only source of income a divorcing couple has.

Superannuation can be fairly complex to review, and forming part of the asset pool, some financial assistance will be most helpful to ascertain whether it is accessible and whether or how it may be split.

In the event of each party having their own or multiple superannuation funds, certain disparities may exist between the two parties, leaving one ex-spouse worse off than the other.

 Consider counselling

It’s completely natural to become overwhelmed with all the legal procedures and the financial concerns over and above the emotional aspects divorcing couples have to face late in their lives. If you’re feeling unable to cope during this period, consider counselling.

Get legal advice

Obtaining legal advice is crucial in most divorces. Experienced divorce lawyers will inform you of your rights and obligations and help you to prepare and navigate through the process.

As all divorces come with their own unique set of circumstances, a family lawyer will advise you on how the law will apply to your situation and also give you a fair indication of what likely outcome you may expect from your divorce.

Prioritise self-care

In most stressful situations, taking care of one’s self physically and mentally is crucial in enabling to deal with the emotions and the challenges that they’re faced with.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by eating right, exercising, remaining socially active and getting enough sleep will go a long way to help you get through this stressful period in your life.

 Make plans for the future

Once your divorce dust has settled, making plans for the future is a sure way of putting the past behind you. Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, there is certainly life after divorce, no matter your age.

Setting and working on achieving short-term goals is a good way to keep one focused on the future, however uncertain it may seem now.


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