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Understanding the financial implications of divorce after 50

The rising divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 - often referred to as gray divorce - is well-chronicled. Older couples are separating more frequently than ever before, as the divorce rate for other age groups shrinks.

In cases of gray divorce however, spouses will often have decades' worth of assets to consider, adding some extra financial uncertainty to the proceedings.

According to a report from Bloomberg, one study found those divorcing after the age of 50 can expect their wealth to drop by an average of 50%. Incomes and standard of living can dwindle as well. For women over the age of 50 specifically, standard of living falls about 45% following divorce. For older men, the drop is about 21%.

These figures underscore the importance of effective legal representation during a divorce. but there is even more to the story.

More valuable, complex assets

As people age, the number of assets they own generally grows - as does the worth and complexity of many of those assets. For example, couples over the age of 50 are more likely to need to take into account property such as:

  • Additional real estate
  • Retirement accounts
  • Business interests, such as an ownership stake
  • The increased value of certain property
  • Stocks and investments
  • Separate property that became co-mingled
  • Social Security eligibility

Understanding the value of these types of assets is a key element of any divorce proceeding. Each situation is different however, requiring a thorough review from necessary experts in order to ensure spouses have the full picture.

The totality of the situation

In addition to the more complicated assets, older couples must deal with the reality of the road ahead. Their earning potential may be near its cap, jobs can be harder to come by and individuals have less time to rebuild their finances. Couples may choose to consider alternative strategies, such as mediation or a legal separation, as a viable path forward.

Because of everything at stake, it is vital to have an experienced divorce attorney who can help guide you through the process while taking into account all potential impacts a separation may have on your life.

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