Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 22 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.
It may seem surprising that many couples separate when they have retired or are on the verge of retirement.
These are often relationships or marriages that have lasted for several decades.
Why after all this time do couples suddenly want out when they are supposedly entering the golden years of retired bliss.
Marriages that end during retirement years happen for a range of reasons.
Often couples have become used to a pre-retirement existence, over many years, where both parties had separate careers and interests that took up a large part of their time.
Often these careers were a very important part of their lives, providing not only fulfillment and income but a social network as well.
The routine of home life would often revolve around the parties separate careers and substantially contribute to the content of their social interaction.
Suddenly when they have finished their working lives and spend all of their time together every day, one or both of the parties realise that they no longer want to be married.
This can be the case even though they may have been married for over 40 years. In other cases, one or both of the parties decide that as a couple they have slowly drifted apart over time. With the advent of retirement, they decide that they want something different or new for the rest of their lives.
In these retirement separations it is often the case that certain tasks within the marriage were allocated to one party and particularly so with financial matters.
Sometimes one party to the marriage has handled the finances and the other party knows very little about their investments and other property.
This is often because it has largely been managed by one of the parties in conjunction with the accountant for a very long time.
Because of this fact the party that has not had the control of the finances needs to be provided with a high level of support.
Often the control over the finances has resulted in the forming of a close relationship between the other party and the families accountant.
It may be a good idea to introduce the client to a new accountant that can represent their individual needs and enable them to develop their own one on one relationship.
As well as understanding the accounting side, it is important that both parties look at their financial situations moving forward into retirement.
A financial plan for the future that is adequate to cover you financially as a couple may not be adequate after you have separated and are running two different households and life styles.
A lawyer can give advice as to a range of possible property entitlements that arise as a result of the separation.
However, it is very important to also consult with a financial planner to give you a greater understanding and peace of mind that you will have enough money to live comfortably.
People are concerned about whether they will have enough funds to pay their rent, mortgage and living expenses.
Another major worry is whether they will be able to continue to financially assist their children and grandchildren.
Seeing a good financial planner will help alleviate these fears.