There are times when a marriage ends when divorce is absolutely the best option. When there is infidelity or abuse or other extreme circumstances divorce is necessary. But when a marriage ends after a long period of time the financial fallout from divorce can be devastating for both parties. After a long-term marriage, the couple has usually built up retirement accounts, investments, and property assets that will need to be cashed out and sold or divided up. Couples over the age of 50 who were well on their way to retirement may find that they need to keep working in order to restart their lives separately. There are also health insurance issues to deal with, especially if one of the people in the couple has health problems.
That’s why according to divorce attorneys there has been a rapid increase in the number of couples that are choosing to stay married but separated or looking at alternative arrangements to a traditional monogamous marriage. Couples who stay married but change the terms of their marriage still have someone they trust to make medical decisions for them if necessary and they get to keep the benefits that they have worked for over the years. Some of the alternative arrangements that are becoming more common include things like:
Married But Permanently Separated
In this type of arrangement, the couple remains legally married but both people maintain their own homes and households. They live separate lives and only share things like health insurance, retirement accounts, and other financial considerations. They may also socialize from time to time if they remain friends. Many couples to separate with an intent to divorce end up staying in a state of permanent separation because it’s better for both parties financially to live separately but stay legally married.
In an open marriage, the couple agrees that they will stay married but each partner will be allowed to date other people and have a separate romantic life. Often open marriages can be difficult to maintain unless both people have great communication skills and both want to pursue other romantic attachments. If one person does and one doesn’t this type of arrangement usually doesn’t work out. But it can be very successful for older couples where one person wants to remain sexually active and one doesn’t.
My parents, who had been married for 30 years, separated last fall and have no intention of divorcing. My dad stayed in the house that he and my mother owned for 40 years and my mom moved to a condo downtown in the city they live in. For them this arrangement is perfect. They still have dinner together a few nights a week and go to church together on Sunday but the rest of the time they live their own lives. Getting creative about options when a relationship just isn’t working anymore can be a great way to give both people what they need without financial ruining each other.