Stay or get a gray divorce?

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The rate of divorce is rising for people over the age of 50. “Gray divorces” don’t come with the common issues that a younger couple might have to deal with, such as child support and visitation, but they do have some special issues, and these areas of dispute can complicate a situation even more and cause further acrimony.

Older couples have seen their share of triumphs and tragedies. They’ve raised children, had careers and possibly wrestled with financial hardship. By the time they reach the retirement years, one would think it would be clear sailing. Or time to relax on the porch. But therein lies part of the problem: If one half of the couple wants to literally sail off into the sunset on a cruise, while the other wants to enjoy the golden years rocking the days away at home, conflict can arise, and in some cases, a divorce is the end result.

The one thing most retired couples can agree on is that they want to enjoy the years after they’ve worked and raised their children. But most couples do not discuss how they want to spend their retirement years while they are still working, so when it comes time to retire, they discover they are not on the same page. Discussing your retirement desires and dreams ahead of time can stave off the shock of realizing that you and your spouse have completely different retirement goals.

There’s also the financial aspect. Conflict can arise if one spouse wants to spend their retirement money, but the other wants to leave something behind for the kids. Also, if one half of the couple always handled the finances, the other half might not be aware how well they can live during retirement. Even with wealthy couples, one spouse might not know their financial standing. Finding out that a retirement dream is or is not attainable can cause additional stress on a relationship, so it is important that the couple be completely aware of the financial situation. For those who find themselves still contemplating a divorce, understanding their legal options when it comes to divorce can help make their decision clearer.

Source: Reuters, “Stern Advice – Till death (not retirement) do us part” Linda Stern, Oct. 09, 2013

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