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Older divorcees often face unique financial challenges

The first years of a couple's marriage may be dominated by love, sex and getting to really know one another. As children are born, financial problems crop up and life falls into a routine; some married couples slowly drift apart. In some cases, after the children are grown and on their own, a couple may come to realize that they no longer have much else in common.

For a growing number of married individuals over the age of 50, the thought of spending the next 20 to 30 years in an unhappy marriage is too much to bear. By analyzing U.S. Census data, researchers at the National Center for Family and Marriage uncovered surprising information about the divorce rate among individuals age 50 and older.

U.S. Census data showed that about 10 percent of divorces that occurred in 1990 involved individuals age 50 or older. By 2010, however, 25 percent of all divorces were among couples age 50 or older. What’s more, researchers found that during this timeframe divorce rates among every other age demographic leveled out or decreased while divorce rates among individuals age 50 and older dramatically increased.

Individuals who divorce later in life face some unique challenges. Take for example a 62-year-old husband or wife whose spouse of 30 years surprises him or her with divorce papers. Not only is the individual forced to deal with the emotional difficulties associated with divorce, but he or she may be forced to rethink or considerably scale back retirement plans.

For individuals in or nearing retirement, time is not on their side. Assets held in investment and retirement accounts are either needed immediately or in the very near future. With one's assets suddenly cut in half, individuals often face difficult decisions with regard to their immediate and future plans.

Individuals who are over the age of 50 and going through a divorce would be wise to discuss their situation with a divorce attorney. An attorney who handles complex divorces can answer questions and help ensure an individual has the financial security to live out their retirement years to the fullest.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Suddenly single: Boomers lead the way in silver divorces," Ana Veciana-Suarez, May 5, 2014

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