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Baby boomers and divorce: What you need to know

In recent years, divorce among adults over the age of 50 has become more common. In 2010, twice as many older adults were untying the knot than they were in 1990, according to a Bowling Green State University study.

What is the reason for the increase? It is believed that the increase comes with changing attitudes about divorce and remarriage, as well as more women working, and overall longer life spans. If people are unhappy in their marriage, it is easier for them to give themselves permission to make the changes necessary to have a more satisfying life, including divorce. But making the choice to venture on as a newly single person is something that comes with its own set of financial challenges, but in many ways brings extra flexibility.

Retirement plan changes

Many older couples who divorce after 50 have built a nest egg that was intended to be shared in a single household, but as part of many divorce settlements, that money will need to support two separate people. Often, that means that both will need to downsize their plans. Some may work for a few more years, or cut back on travel plans. They may even need to reduce the amount they help adult kids for things such as college and wedding expenses, because they need the money for themselves.

A different level of flexibility

Divorcing after 50, especially if the kids are grown or nearly grown, gives couples more flexibility than someone in their 20s, 30s or 40s who may have young kids at home. Child support payments are less of a concern and keeping the family home becomes less important to many people. For many, it is easier to downsize your lifestyle, at least temporarily. If the marriage has lasted at least ten years, there is also the option of collecting a spouse's social security benefits once the age of eligibility is reached.

Treading carefully

Your financial position after a marriage is over often looks a lot different than it did before the marriage. If you were making the bulk of the marital assets through your work and investments, you may have to give up some of these in order to create a better balance between yourself and your ex-spouse.

Extensive negotiations are often necessary to ensure that each person retains the assets that are most important to them. By working with a qualified divorce attorney, those over 50 are often able to see more of the bigger financial picture that will allow them to come up with a reasonable arrangement that works for them.

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The Law Office of Peter A. Lauzon

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