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Divorce after 50 is both easier and more complicated

As Colorado's Baby Boomer generation enters its 50s and 60s, many of their marriages are coming apart. Although the divorce rate overall has been going down nationwide, divorces of couples over 50 are actually on the increase. In 1990, 10 percent of divorces in this country involved couples aged 50 or over; today that figure is 25 percent.

There are probably a number of reasons for the rise in divorces among older couples. People today are living longer, meaning that an unhappy marriage lasts longer as well. Couples today view personal happiness as an important reason to stay married; if the happiness is gone, boomers feel less obligated to stay together. The increased financial independence of women is another factor; a woman today is much less likely to stay married for the sake of financial security.

A divorce between older spouses is different from one involving a couple in their 20s or 30s. For one thing, the children are probably grown and - hopefully - have left the house. Potentially contentious disputes over child custody and child support are less likely. But older couples tend to be financially better off than their younger counterparts, and asset division tends to be the issue at the forefront of many of their divorces.

Property division can be more complicated for couples 50 and older. They are more likely to own real estate or have a successful business than a younger couple. And division of retirement plans can be critical: an older spouse who doesn't get a fair share of a 401(k) or IRA in the divorce settlement has fewer years to rebuild their own retirement savings. It is essential to calculate how much appreciation has occurred in order to ensure an equitable distribution.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Love lessons from the Boomers," Heidi Stevens, Oct. 3, 2012

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