Americans over the age of 50 are divorcing at an unprecedented rate. Since 1990, the divorce rate among Americans in this age group has doubled.

Every divorce is different, and each individual divorce will have its own unique challenges. But there are some patterns in divorce problems that encumber a high proportion of divorces involving older couples. One of these problems is dealing with complicated retirement assets.

A divorce later in life can throw retirement plans into disarray. Realistically, your retirement will be quite different after divorce than it would have been had you remained married. But by handling complicated assets appropriately in divorce, you can get the most out of your retirement as a single person.

Many people who divorce older in life bring significant retirement assets to the table. Pension division or dividing a defined-contribution plan like a 401(k) can be critically important. Failing to push for your fair share now could leave you coming up short down the road.

It is not just about pushing for the cut of retirement assets you are entitled to. Some types of assets, like stock options or deferred-compensation plans, are poorly understood, and may even go overlooked completely. However, these types of assets can easily be worth thousands, and to track them down and fairly divide them, you will need professional help.

Getting divorced later in life can certainly be a challenge. But it is one that can be overcome with the right legal assistance and the right approach to retirement assets.

Source: New York Times, “Late-in-life divorce perils retirement plans” June 27, 2014