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The top seven things to consider in a gray divorce

In the United States, it's more common than ever for couples over the age of 50 to seek a divorce. In fact, a recent study from Bowling Green State University shows that divorce in couples over age 50 nearly doubled between the years 1990 and 2010. This trend--sometimes known as gray divorce--frequently comes with issues that don't affect the divorces of younger couples.

Older couples who are divorcing are often concerned about the implications for their financial planning. Retirement plans, in particular, can take a massive hit in a divorce. If you are over 50 and are considering a divorce, there are a few critical things that you should consider.

  • Paying alimony

Alimony payments are much more common in marriages that have lasted a long time, especially if one spouse was the primary breadwinner. Younger couples sometimes have temporary alimony settlements to help them get back on their feet and find a career. For seniors, this might not be possible. Every divorce settlement is different, but alimony could play a prominent role.

  • Retirement accounts

Retirement funds can take a serious hit in a divorce. Retirement and pension funds can be one of a couple's biggest assets... and in a divorce, it can sometimes be cut in half--or even more--for one spouse. Take this into account when you are divorcing while also planning your retirement.

  • The marriage home

The house in which a couple spent the majority of their marriage can be an emotionally charged asset. It can sometimes be challenging to decide how to handle it in a divorce. Think clearly and rationally to make the decision that makes the most sense financially.

  • Children

Your children may now legally be adults, but a divorce can still take a serious toll on them. Adult children may still have emotional responses to divorce; they may even feel caught in the middle of their parents. There are financial issues, too: Some parents still support their grown children financially, even if child support payments are no longer an issue.

  • Amicability

Though every divorce is different, many couples wish to remain as amicable as possible for the sake of their children or their own relationship. After a long marriage, staying amicable can be a satisfying choice for many couples, difficult though it may be.

  • Dating and remarrying

Single seniors may now be faced with the prospect of dating, falling in love and remarrying. Be prepared for relationships to have a different dynamic now that you are older. It can be equal parts exciting and daunting. Falling in love again can bring many people a new lease on life.

  • Prenups, part two

If you do eventually remarry, you may want to get a prenuptial agreement the second time around. If you should divorce a second time, your finances could be irreparably damaged. It is essential, therefore, to protect your assets.

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