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Financial concerns for older divorcing adults

Older couples in Georgia may be at a higher risk for divorce than they would have been in the past. Twice as many people 50 and older divorce compared to 1990, and three times as many who are 65 and older do.

There appear to be several reasons for this trend. Second marriages have a higher divorce rate than first marriages. Shorter marriages are also more likely than longer marriages to end. Women with divorced parents are 60 percent more likely to get a divorce themselves, and men with divorced parents are 35 percent more likely. However, the divorces are not tied with certain life changes, such as an empty nest or retirement, as people might assume. Instead, research shows that older adults generally divorce for the same reasons that younger ones do. They are unhappy with the quality of their marriage and do not enjoy spending time with one another.

Unfortunately, divorce can also be costly, both financially and in terms of relationships. It can even be difficult for adult children when their parents divorce. Divorced individuals may become more isolated because their social networks are disrupted. Maintaining two households costs more than maintaining one. Women 65 and older are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty after divorce compared to men.

With these statistics in mind, it is important that when older adults do divorce, the division of property is fair. It is also essential that the rules regarding the division of any retirement accounts be followed to avoid taxes and penalties. For example, some accounts, such as pension plans and 401(k)s, require a qualified domestic relations order. Most pension plans have rules associated with how they can be divided. People who are looking at the value of retirement accounts should also take into account whether distributions will be taxed.

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Hecht Family Law
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