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How adult children can help boomer parents through divorce

According to a recent study, about one out of three members of the baby boomer generation is unmarried, and 60 percent of that number is divorced. In fact, the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since 1990, and it is likely to continue to rise in the coming years. Even if it remains stable, however, the number of divorced people over 50 will increase by at least one-third in the next 20 years, due to the projected growth rate of that demographic.

So what does this mean for divorcing or divorced baby boomers and their families? In a recent Reuters article, experts say that the adult children of people who divorce near retirement age must deal with both financial and emotional repercussions of their parents’ late-in-life split.

The financial aspect may seem (and often is) the most foreboding. Divorced baby boomers may find themselves with depleted retirement funds and an inability to pay for health care and living expenses as age and their need for those services grows. This can mean that those costs get passed down to their children.

For people in those situations, there are a few steps you can take. If your parent is young enough, consider taking out long-term care insurance to help defray the costs of aging. A reverse mortgage is another option, if your parent has retained the family home in the divorce. In addition, you should ensure that your parent is receiving the federal and retirement benefits to which they are entitled. Spouses who have been married for at least 10 years generally can claim one another’s Social Security benefits, so make sure that this avenue is explored.

In terms of the emotional repercussions of your parents’ late-in-life divorce, make sure not to overlook or dismiss the psychological effects that the split may be having on you.

Source: Reuters, “Double the trouble when divorced parents get old,” Chris Taylor, Oct. 19, 2012

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