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Getting through a gray divorce: What to expect

Getting older is nothing like you expected. You're happy and healthy, enjoy lots of activities and have friends and hobbies you love. Despite that, there are some things you're not happy about, one of which is that your husband wants to get a divorce.

In your 50s, you'll be part of a movement of people getting divorces in later life. Known as "gray divorces," these divorces involve individuals who are older and potentially on second or third marriages. Many have children, high assets and retirement concerns.

A gray divorce isn't all bad, but there are some things you need to watch out for. Here are some things to keep in mind.

What should you watch out for in a gray divorce?

A gray divorce has some issues you must watch out for including cost, retirement benefits and the potential for a drawn out divorce. Fortunately, you can address these issues relatively easily.

To start with, divorces cost more the longer they take to complete, which is not good if you're looking to save money to use in retirement. Instead of going through a contentious divorce, it's a good idea to consider mediation or to use arbitration instead of going to trial. Although mediation is an extra expense, the reality is that it's likely to save you money in the long term and help you and your spouse communicate better.

Retirement benefits are a point of contention in many gray divorces, especially for spouses who only have benefits through their husband or wife. You will likely need to work out a way to retain retirement benefits or to get a fair settlement that you can invest now. Remember, the Social Security Administration believes that men who are 65 now can expect to live to 84.3 years of age, while women turning 65 today may live to 86.6 years old on average. One out of 10 people live past the age of 95, which is something you need to account for when you go through divorce.

Finally, remember that your divorce could be drawn out, and besides the cost, that wastes your time. As you age, you know that time seems to move more quickly and that you only have a certain amount of time left to do the things you love. Don't waste time fighting over petty things during your divorce. If you do, you'll likely waste years of your life in a court room.

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Nancy Noyes Engelman, Noyes & Rubin, LLP
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