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Divorce late in life has special issues

Our population is aging and there's an increase in what is known as gray divorce. There are special issues that must be considered when a long-term marriage ends and the parties are over 50 years old.

Two important aspects of gray divorces are 401K and pension plans of the spouses. It is much harder to rebuild these types of assets as retirement draws closer. This is especially important to consider in a community-property state like Texas. Generally, assets obtained during the marriage are equally divided in a divorce

Another issue that crops up for those divorcing later in life is alimony payments. Courts often grant alimony in marriages that spanned 25 to 30 years, and the alimony often lasts until the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving the payments. Retirement does not automatically end the obligation either. Most of the time, it is based on negotiation between the divorced parties and court rulings. Social security benefits, which can't be divided, can be used to offset other assets and income. A final question to consider is whether or not to keep the marital house. This used to be a major asset, but with the drop in housing prices, it may not be as large of an asset. Care should be taken in selling or valuing property in the current market.

Divorces are more complicated when the marriages are long and the couples are nearing retirement. A divorce lawyer may be able to review the case and offer options that are fair to both parties. In Texas, people who are considering divorce may benefit from consulting with knowledgeable divorce lawyers who may explain their rights and options.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Gray Divorce," Henry Gornbein, Mar. 6, 2013

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