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A 'gray' divorce could cause a setback in retirement for some

Not every marriage is meant to last, no matter what your age. Mississippi residents may have heard of the term "gray divorce," but may not know what it means. A gray divorce is one in which the parties are over age 50. In fact, the divorce rate of those over age 50 has increased twofold from 1990 to 2010. These late-in-life divorces can have a significant impact on a person's ability to support himself or herself, often pushing the individuals involved, particularly women, to delay retirement or even re-enter the workforce.

One survey reports that the later in life a woman divorces, the more apt she is to have to work full time later in life. The survey found that, compared to those whose marriage ended prior to age 30, those whose marriage ended when they were in their 50s were 10 percent more likely to be full-time employees between the ages of 50 and 74.

This may be because for some individuals, getting a divorce significantly impacts their finances. It's a lot more than simply paying the court fees. When a couple divorces, each partner has to set up a new individual home on his or her own, which costs money. Moreover, if a woman who is getting a divorce has a child, she may wish to keep the family home for the sake of the child and will often do so in exchange for retirement assets. However, in the end, this can be a costly expense. Not only is it expensive to maintain a home, but it can cause a person to fall years behind in their retirement planning.

As this shows, the long-term financial effects divorce has on some people can be significant. However, one should not feel trapped in an unhappy marriage. An attorney may be able to advise clients on how to protect their retirement savings and other assets in the event of a divorce. Moreover, it may be possible for spouses to seek spousal support in certain circumstances, which can also help a person out financially. There are ways that a person can divorce without having to postpone retirement, which will allow them to remain financially self-sufficient post-divorce.

Source: Bloomberg, "Divorce Is Destroying Retirement," Ben Steverman, Oct. 17, 2016

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