‘Gray divorce’ and the risk to your retirement savings

As society changes, so do its family law trends. A lot of research in recent years has analyzed divorce rates among various groups of Americans. Through analysis of demographic data and other sources, an interesting trend has emerged. As of 2010, about one in four divorcees was age 50 or older.

“Gray divorce” is the term coined to describe the phenomenon of couples who dissolve their marriage later in life. There are many factors contributing to the trend, including longer average life expectancy, more dual-income households and a decreasing social stigma surrounding divorce in general.

If a couple feels like they need to get divorced, doing so later in life can be advantageous in some respects. Most couples over the age of 50 will not need to worry about a child custody battle because their children have already grown up and moved out.

But gray divorce also comes with at least one big risk: financial insecurity. If you and your spouse have been saving for retirement throughout your marriage, splitting those assets in half can lead to a much smaller “nest egg” for each of you. After a divorce, costs per person generally go up because two households are more expensive than one.

The other financial risk with gray divorce is the short amount of time between divorce and retirement. If you get divorced in your late 50s and were planning to retire at 65, you may not have enough working years left to make up the difference in retirement savings.

Divorce later in life is definitely possible, but it requires careful planning. An experienced family law attorney may be able to help you preserve your retirement goals through an efficient divorce process and a fair divorce settlement.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Study: Divorce proves tough for couples 50 and over,” Tim Grant, Oct. 24, 2014

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