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3 factors to consider in late-life divorce

It is now more typical for divorce to occur later in life when partners are in their 50s or 60s. Usually these are long-term marriages of 20 years or more. When these marriages end they are known as a "gray divorce". These late-life divorces bring special challenges that couples must consider.

It is important to focus on particular factors when divorcing at this stage in your life. If you are contemplating a so-called gray divorce, a qualified divorce attorney can help you navigate these challenging waters. Here are a few basics to get you started:

1. Retirement funds

The Washington Post reports that a gray divorce can "devastate" retirement plans. As in any divorce, a gray divorce typically requires that you divide your retirement assets. Living on half of what you are used to can pose significant challenges. It is crucial that you obtain an adequate share of assets in your divorce, especially when it comes to retirement funds, because there are less income-producing years available to spouses.

2. Spousal support and maintenance

Although spousal support and maintenance are typical aspects of many divorces, it can pose special challenges in a gray divorce. Health issues are one reason this may be the case. Another is the fact that one or both spouses may no longer work. Special attention should be paid to ensuring you get the financial support you need to live comfortably, or alternatively that you don't have to pay more than your fair share.

3. Grown children and financial legacies

Many older couples have obtained significant wealth, including retirement benefits, savings accounts, complex investments and properties. Gray divorce is often complicated by each spouse's desire to leave a financial legacy for the children. If you are approaching retirement or have already retired, planning effective gifting strategies becomes even more relevant.

For most people entering into a gray divorce, it is particularly important to expedite the process, making skillful negotiation critical to success. Mature couples entering divorce and other family law disputes face unique challenges that differ from younger couples. However, these challenges are not insurmountable. An experienced divorce attorney can help you move confidently into the future and find your happily ever after.

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