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Tips for Divorcing Late in Life

Being married for a few decades may make it tougher to leave your spouse. (Or, it might have finally convinced you that you're just not right for each other.) Divorce is far from a young person's game, and older people seeking divorce may face some legal dilemmas their younger counterparts do not.

So here are a few tips and considerations if you're thinking about getting divorced in your golden years.

1. Divorce Rate Doubles for Couples Over 50

Just know that you're not alone. The divorce rate among older adults has more than doubled since 1980, and a quarter of those getting divorced are over the age of 50. The rise in "gray divorce" has come at the same time as many states have been relaxing their divorce restrictions, allowing spouses to uncouple more easily.

2. How Does Age Factor Into Divorce?

For the most part, courts will treat couples divorcing in their 60s just like couples divorcing in their 30s. But that doesn't mean the financial implications of the split will be the same. Custody and child support considerations (if any) will be different, as will alimony and spousal support calculations, especially if one of the spouses has been the primary breadwinner for a few decades.

3. In Divorce, Am I Entitled to Half of My Spouse's Retirement?

This might be the biggest question older couples have when it comes to divorce. And the answer may come down to where you live -- "community property" states rule that all income and property acquired during the marriage, even money set aside for retirement, is divided equally in the event of a split. And even if you don't live in one of those states, you may a claim to at least some of your spouse's retirement benefits.

4. What Is a QDRO? How Divorce Affects Retirement

That claim may be enforced in the form of Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, a court order that allows an ex-spouse to collect money from a retirement account. A QDRO will describe how retirement assets will be divided between the retirement plan's participant and his or her ex, and is required for any retirement plan covered by ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

5. Changing Your Will After a Divorce

Now that your betrothed has gone bye-bye, your may need to revise the beneficiaries of your estate. Be aware that there are specific rules when it comes to altering or editing a will, so make sure you follow them when choosing new heirs.

Divorce, for young or old, can be emotionally and legally complicated. Talk to an experienced attorney if you're considering a divorce.

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