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Virginia couples in a "gray divorce" may face financial issues

These days, it is not unusual for a couple in Virginia to divorce, even if they had been married for decades. In fact, the Pew Research Center reports that, since the 1990s, the rate of divorce for couples ages 50 and up has increased twofold. People may be realizing that as the years go by, they grow apart from their partners to the point that the marriage is untenable. Or, some couples who have been staying married for the sake of the children may find that once the children leave the nest they are ready to end their marriage.

No matter what the reason, a couple going through a so-called "gray divorce" may face certain issues that younger couples do not face, particularly when it comes to finances and property division. This is because they will not only have to set up two separate households, but they may also have to divide retirement accounts that both were depending on to meet their financial needs in their old age. However, there are some steps people going through a "gray divorce" can take to protect themselves financially both during the divorce process and beyond.

One option is to consider collaborative divorce rather than traditional litigation. In the collaborative divorce process, each partner is represented by an attorney. The partners and their attorneys will meet to resolve their divorce legal issues, including property division, in a way that is acceptable to all involved. Depending on the circumstances, collaborative divorce may not cost as much as traditional litigation.

A person may also be able to obtain Social Security benefits based on the work record of a former spouse, if the benefits would be greater than those based on the person's own work record. To achieve this, the person must be unmarried, both the person and his or her former spouse must be age 62 or above and they must have been married for at least a decade.

These are only a couple things to keep in mind if one is facing the possibility of a "gray divorce." It may help for those considering a divorce to discuss the matter with an attorney, who can explain how to protect their finances with regards to their divorce legal issues.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Gray divorce can have big financial impact," Eileen Ambrose, March 2, 2018

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