Financial problems may arise following later-in-life divorces

According to the most recent complete data available, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services report that there were over 23,000 Missouri marriages that ended in divorce in 2010 - with 3,000 divorces in St. Louis County alone.

While these numbers may not be especially alarming in today's day and age, a study conducted by Bowling Green State University indicates that although divorce rates have remained relatively stable over the last 20 years nationwide, the divorce rate among those aged 50 and above has more than doubled - divorces which are often referred to as "gray" divorces.

Specifically, researchers found that the divorce rate for those 50-years-old and older rose from only 4.7 divorced persons per 1,000 married persons in 1990 to 9.7 divorces persons by 2009. In fact, the study also discovered that a whopping 1 in 4 divorces in 2009 could be attributed to divorcees in this age group - compared to a ratio smaller than 1 in 10 just 20 years earlier.

Impact of gray divorces on financial health

At an ever-increasing rate, older couples are nearing retirement and simply deciding that they do not want to spend their twilight years with their current spouses. And, while this decision can often help a person's emotional well-being, it can wreak havoc to the person's financial well-being.

For instance, many couples engaging in later-in-life divorces may have saved for decades under the premise they would retire together. But, following a divorce many of these same couples are likely to find that these savings are no longer adequate - after all, it generally costs much more for two individuals to retire when compared to one couple living together. Consequently, later-in-life divorces may lead to some divorcees having to work many more years than they originally expected.

Because of these financial issues, it is more important than ever for those involved in gray divorces to ensure they get their fair share of marital assets following a divorce - which can often be a complex process given that many of these couples commingled assets and investments for several years.

For example, when dividing investment accounts during a Missouri divorce there are several important questions to address, including:

  • Which spouse primarily contributed to investment and retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s during the marriage?
  • Did the other spouse's marital contributions add additional value to investments?
  • Does the couple's investment portfolio include real estate?
  • What are the potential tax consequences and obligations for each investment?

Accordingly, if you are currently contemplating filing for divorce, it is often a good idea to seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney who can help address these questions. A skilled attorney can not only aid with the filing process but also assist in negotiating the division of substantial marital assets.