Jane Fonda has been a groundbreaker all her life. The two-time Oscar winner’s latest television series Grace and Frankie, which premiered its fifth season in early 2019, is no different, tackling late-life divorce, a subject she knows well.
Things have changed since Fonda split up from her first husband, Roger Vadim, in the 1970s when she was in her late 30s. Fonda had to overcome challenges personally and in the job market, where film studios were reluctant to cast “older” women.
However, Fonda was resilient, bouncing back bigger than ever, following each of her three divorces. After splitting from Vadim, for example, she starred in a string of hits and at age 45 produced Jane Fonda’s Workout, the top selling VHS video of all time. Fonda also did well personally, marrying activist (and later Senator) Tom Hayden.
Taking the next step
Today, moving on after a marriage has run its course is regarded as normal. That’s true even for Boomers, for whom Fonda partially paved the way. Divorce rates among adults in their late 50s are now close to 20 percent, higher than in any other age group, according to Statistics Canada. That’s three times higher than in the early 1980s.
These divorcees are thriving for a number of reasons. Women today are more financially independent than ever before. They are thus freer to make life choices. In addition, life expectations have evolved. It’s not unusual to choose different partners as one progresses through life. Fonda, for example, has had four successful long-term relationships.
Bigger stakes financially
It should thus come as no surprise that economics plays a bigger role in later-life divorces.
As we age we accumulate more assets, which means that the stakes are higher. That’s true both during and after a split. Assets – ranging from family homes to RRSPs and insurance policies – need to be identified and divided up during a divorce. Both partners will need new financial plans as they adjust to their new situation. This could involve a lower monthly household income or differing insurance needs.
Today’s financial advisers are prepared to help mature divorcees, and many offer specialized services that speak to this demographic trend.
RBC Financial Planning suggests a variety of ways that can help protect and position you to thrive post-divorce. These may include defining a new investment strategy, or partnering with a network of advisers, such as lawyers, accountants and insurance professionals.
Once you’ve decided to end your marriage, establishing financial independence from your partner as early as possible is key. If you haven’t already, that means opening your own bank account and credit line. You may also want to revise your will and power of attorney provisions. This isn’t rocket science. But those who have relied on their partners to handle the finances will need to invest some time and get good advice.
A whole new life ahead
Once a financial plan has been set up, singles can then focus on building their new lives. Fonda, for example, began her latest long-term romance at 72. The now 80-year-old actress continues to break ground, debunking ageist stereotypes about everything from career to love and, yes, marriage.
The iconic actress, activist and cultural leader has the right attitude and provides a great example of how divorce can become a fresh opportunity for fulfillment or reinvention, no matter your age.
Six ways to protect yourself financially during and after a divorce
- Get organized Find out exactly what assets you and your spouse own, and what liabilities you have. You’ll gain insight into your net worth and feel confident that you know where you stand.
- Establish your own credit It’s important to set up credit in your name now, in case you need it in the future. It’s also smart to close joint credit accounts and notify your mortgage lender of the change.
- Open your own bank account Also, close joint accounts at this time. If you need to keep joint accounts open for any reason, ask that both signatures be required for transactions.
- Revise your will and power of attorney While the laws vary by province, divorce doesn’t generally revoke a will or a power of attorney. This is an important time to review your estate documents.
- Update your investment accounts and insurance policies Notify your investment representative about your change in status. It may also be a good idea to review or possibly freeze trading authorizations until your divorce is settled and assets are divided.
- Set up a network of professional financial support Among other things, your financial planner can refer you to other qualified professionals – such as a lawyer and an accountant – to provide the expertise you need to reach a fair settlement that protects your interests.
Source: RBC Financial Planning
Is Divorce Good for Your Health?
Even done right and for all the right reasons, divorce is stressful. There are numerous studies that show divorce can take a toll on your health, particularly mental and cardiovascular health. However, a report published in the Journal of Women’s Health analyzed various health measures of nearly 80,000 women aged 50 to 79 over a three-year period. It found that when women of that age divorce, it can be good for their health: They lost weight and inches around their waists, increased their exercise and improved their diets. Men, not so much.