No, I’m not talking about the latest snappy little sports car, but Baby Boomers and the subculture just below that demographic, Zoomers.
While Boomers are the largest demographic that continues to influence the economy, determined to suck the marrow out of life and certainly not moving over willingly until they are dragged kicking and screaming into retirement, Zoomers appear to be a relatively new sub-culture emerging behind the Boomers and probably because they are the children of Boomers. Why Zoomers? Because they enjoy life with ZIP! Zoomers are trendsetting Boomers or on the cusp of Boomers at just below 50, who are breaking new ground, redefining aging and reinventing retirement.
Speaking of retirement, the trend now seems to be a growing number of people are not retiring at age 65. Experts feel this trend will continue and the idea that 65 is a magic number signifying the end of income-earning years will be permanently wiped out of our future, particiularly as health care improves and general attitudes to taking care of ourselves also improve.
So what implications are there for either of these demographics in the event of relationship breakdown?
Boomers are more at risk of financial disaster in relationship breakdown, either once retired or working towards it.
A lifetime of savings and hard work all carefully planned can be reduced by half after a long marriage and child raising, leaving a very different future ahead. A comfortable retirement for two may not be achievable to the same standard on separation, not to mention the emotional upheaval and ripple effect through the family when a long marriage breaks down. Relationships not only with children but also with grandchildren can feel the pain. Mediation is a far better option for resolution of issues than litigation at any age but even more important for the Boomer.
Generally speaking after a very long marriage, significant contributions aside, the Boomer is looking at an equal division of assets. Yes sir, that superannuation you cuddled and fed over the years in your name alone? It’s on the table as an asset for division, whether it’s in the transition to retirement phase, fully vested or still getting topped up as much as the rules will allow. Superannuation is treated in a property division as property, and can be split between the parties to even-up asset division, making it fairer for a spouse who hasn’t worked for many years outside the home, and has been unable to contribute to superannuation. There are some funds that require expert valuations before their value can be determined; particularly if there has been significant military service. Where such a fund may be converted to a pension due to injury, that income stream can be considered and valued. It’s complicated stuff, hence the need for a expert valuation.
It’s even more difficult if the funds are in a self-managed superannuation fund. Again expert advice is needed.
But what of the Zoomers? Those youthful beings with no intention of retiring in 20 years let alone right now? Although they may have a longer income earning period to recover financially from the property aspects of a relationship breakdown, there are the same issues likely to be raised, the same need to resolve disputes as a Boomer in a civilized fashion but often with the addition of a continued role as a parent. Did you hear me say civilized again? This is where getting sound advice and utilising alternate dispute resolution once more comes into play. More than ever, Booming or Zooming, it’s important for parties to keep it classy, keep it civilized and endeavour to keep away from the cost and uncertainty of litigation. That superannuation fund will be around a bit longer, but the relationship between people who are still parenting can be fragile and easily damaged if not approached in the right way.
Boom or Zoom, breaking up is never easy to do and family lawyers know that it’s true. Always seek expert and specialised advice before making any decision.