E5: Getting through divorce and separation

An increasing number of people are choosing to divorce at older ages, and this can have significant financial implications.

In this episode, we speak with experienced lawyer Alice Mantel, a specialist in family and elder law about the financial aspects of so called ‘grey divorces’.

Couples aged over 55 have often built up a lifetime of shared assets which can make for complicated financial settlements. People are living longer so arrangements need to take this into account as post-divorce life can last for several decades.

In her experience, Alice Mantel finds women are initiating divorce more often for a range of reasons including a desire for freedom and independence after a lifetime of caring. Retirement is often the trigger as some couples find their relationship wanting when they spend more time together. We like to lead purposeful lives, and this can be lacking during retirement. However, because of broken work histories due to caring responsibilities, low super and lower incomes women can often be financially disadvantaged by divorce.

In some instances, domestic violence including coercive control is a cause. Alice Mantel strongly advises women in this situation to seek advice and support because the point of leaving a relationship is the most dangerous time for a woman. Many women attempt to leave several times before they succeed.

She advises filing for divorce costs around $900 and is straightforward. What is much more complicated and will often need legal advice is the financial settlement which is generally more complex than a 50/50 split. The family contribution of a spouse not in paid work will be taken into account as well as superannuation, investments, inheritances and other assets such as vehicles. If you have no children under 18, court attendance is not required.

She advises seeing a relationship counsellor first if there are any uncertainties about ending the marriage. Financial advice from a reputable advisor is also very important.

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