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Baby boomers experiencing divorce at record rates

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Baby boomers have experienced divorce throughout their lives at rates greater than other generations. Baby boomers, now at or nearing retirement age, have continued that trend as they age. “Gray divorce,” as it has been termed, has become common for a variety of reasons. Second and third marriages are statistically more likely to end in divorce, and many baby boomers have remarried. There has also been a changing view of retirement, with baby boomers looking to have a healthy, active retirement. In some cases personal fulfillment in retirement can mean divorce from an unhappy marriage. In addition, unlike previous generations, many baby boomers are self-supporting individually through work and savings, meaning financial considerations may not prevent a divorce.

According to sociologists Susan Brown and I-Fen Lin, one in four divorces now occur to people aged 50 or older.

Gray divorce considerations

Divorce for baby boomers is unique in several ways. Many baby boomers have adult children and both parents often wish to remain a part of their children’s and grandchildren’s lives. This can lead to a more amicable split. In addition, many baby boomers have worked hard to accumulate assets and do not wish to see a lifetime’s worth of savings become lost in a lengthy divorce.

But divorce at any age can cause emotional and financial stress. Dividing assets can be tricky, especially if one spouse did not pursue a career in order to care for family. Even if both spouses do work, women of the baby boomer generation on average have lower salaries than men of their age group, even for the same jobs. Women also live an average of six years longer than men, meaning more retirement money is needed.

Financial and retirement planning

The first step in any divorce is getting an accurate picture of finances. Obtaining a credit score is one place to start, as it allows both spouses access to an accurate picture of debt. Each spouse should also get financial documents regarding bank, retirement and savings accounts.

Each party to the divorce should also consider what to do with the marital home. While traditionally many divorcing couples have fought to keep the home, the added expense and maintenance of a house may not be worth keeping. Downsizing after a divorce is common, especially for baby boomers. If both exes are on the mortgage, selling the home and dividing the proceeds may be an option.

Divorce is not the end

While divorce after years or decades of marriage can be painful, it can also be liberating. However, with retirement just around the corner and many financial issues to consider, divorce for baby boomers also requires careful planning. Baby boomers considering divorce should speak to an experienced family law attorney to discuss their legal options and first steps.

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