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Issues facing older adults in divorce: part two

Last week we introduced the concept of "grey divorce," or divorce that happens later in life. We explored some of its roots, including the desire of older adults to move on with their lives after their children are grown and shifting societal attitudes surrounding divorce.

While those circumstances may make it seem easier to couples to part ways, there are unique challenges facing older married couples who decide to end a marriage. These can range from concerns over divorce's effects on adult children and financial concerns, among others.

One of the greatest challenges can be dividing a couple's assets, which by a certain age may include pension plans, 401ks and decades of earnings. Couples who have shared finances for years may have obtained some assets jointly, which can make property division more difficult. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take now to prepare financially:

  1. Keep an eye on finances throughout your marriage. It is common for one spouse to handle all of a couple's finances and the other not to know their situation. Being aware of any accounts your spouse has open and ensuring that you have access to all marital funds can help you stay informed and prepared in case time comes to split.
  2. Plan ahead. Prepare for the fact that your spouse may be entitled to part of your pension or 401k and vice versa. Make sure any issues surrounding retirement accounts are addressed in your divorce agreement.
  3. Get help. Meeting with a financial planner can help you budget for your new lifestyle and put your assets to the best possible use. They can also help you prepare for financial events like illness or retirement.
  4. Update your estate plan. If you and your spouse have parted on less-than-ideal terms, you probably don't want them getting all of your assets and property after you pass away. Revise your wills, trusts and other estate planning documents to make sure your wishes are followed.

If you are considering seeking a divorce, it is wise to speak with an experienced family law attorney. They have the background to help you protect your personal and financial interests and seek the best result for you. Letting them concentrate on your case can allow you to focus on moving on with your life.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Coping With A Grey Divorce," Lubov Stark, Nov. 20, 2012

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