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Older Americans choosing divorce more often

A survey conducted by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University identified a new trend in divorce. In 1990, divorce was largely an issue for younger couples. Less than 10 percent of all divorces were comprised of people over 50 at that point. As of 2014, the percentage had risen to 25. There are many potential explanations for the shift, from the reduced stigma attached to divorce to increasing longevity. Whatever the cause, the bottom line is that more people over the age of 50 are choosing to terminate an unhappy marriage.

The Challenges Of Divorcing Later In Life

Ending a marriage is rarely an easy or enjoyable process. While older couples are somewhat less likely to face issues like child custody disputes or battles over parenting time, there are considerations that are more important for people as they approach retirement. The financial impact of a divorce can come as a shock for those who have not prepared. The stability you enjoy and the assets you've accumulated over the years can be taken from you in a heartbeat if you are not careful.

Business Assets

Business owners face unique challenges in the divorce process. While some assets are easily valued and divided, carving up a business or professional practice is not straightforward. According to the survey, business interests are a point of contention in 60 percent of divorces involving couples over 50.

Retirement Savings

Many married people are unaware of the retirement assets accumulated by their spouses. When older couples divorce, arguments over these retirement assets are common. The division of these assets can leave one or both parties unable to retire in a timely manner. Along with a drop in standard of living, the loss of retirement savings may be the most impactful part of a divorce after 50.

Come Prepared

Whether you are considering filing for divorce, or you are responding to a divorce initiated by your spouse, it is important to be prepared. By working with knowledgeable attorneys and financial experts, you can protect your interests in a divorce. Issues of alimony, retirement accounts, real property and business assets must be addressed properly to secure your future after divorce. The sooner you prepare, the better your chances of a positive result.

Source: Bloomberg, "Older Americans Are Jeopardizing Their Retirement With Divorce," by Carol Hymnowitz, 29 September 2016

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