Getting ready for the financial challenges of gray divorce

As couples divorce later in life, preparedness is the key to moving on

Gray divorce, which is divorce involving spouses who are past or approaching retirement age, has been climbing rapidly over the past couple decades. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as an increasing number of older couples decide to call it quits, many of them are learning that late-in-life divorce often leads to unique financial challenges. Indeed, experts say that the key to successfully moving on and being ready for retirement post-divorce is to be aware of the unique questions posed by gray divorce.

Why gray divorce is different

Two important factors often set gray divorce apart from divorces that occur earlier in life. Obviously, older couples are less likely to have children living with them, meaning that questions about child custody and support don't often come up during a gray divorce. In that sense, older couples have a lot less to worry about than younger divorcing couples.

However, the fact that older couples are also approaching retirement age means that gray divorce can be just as complicated as divorcing when young. Older couples typically have less time to work and thus save up money following a divorce, which means that getting the divorce right the first time is extremely important, especially for a dependent spouse.

Pensions and assets

In gray divorce, the most important priority for people to consider is how they are going to fund their retirements. Being single often means that retirement is significantly more expensive than it is for married couples. Preparedness and an understanding of how assets are usually divided following a divorce is important for moving forward.

Assets that can help fund a retirement, according to the Washington Post, can usually be divided between both spouses. These assets may include 401(k)s, IRAs, and pensions. In many cases, the dependent spouse may be able to claim up to half of his or her ex-partner's social security benefits. Experts also warn against letting emotions get in the way of prudent financial decisions, such as giving up too many financial assets in order to hold on to the marital home.

Preparing for a divorce

The important message to take away from the above article is that divorce can often cause a lot of surprises, regardless of a couple's age, and spouses should do their best to be prepared. Because of the unexpected nature of the divorce process, a highly qualified family law attorney can prove to be particularly helpful when deciding what step to take next. With expert legal advice, families will have the guidance they need when trying to resolve the many thorny issues raised by divorce and other family law matters.

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