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Financial considerations for older adults getting divorced

Older couples in California may be more vulnerable to divorce than younger couples. As the divorce rate goes down among younger people, it is on the rise among older people, and for people 65 and older, it is three times higher than it was in the 1990s.

There are a number of reasons this may be happening. With life expectancy on the rise, people may be less willing to spend their remaining years in an unhappy marriage. Differences about finances becomes more significant as well because retirement funds may need to last for decades. However, divorce can also be particularly hard on an older couple's finances because they have prepared for retirement with the assumption that they would be living in the same household. Splitting the household in two can mean less money for both individuals in retirement.

In California, retirement accounts may be split 50/50 since it is an equal distribution state. Older couples may also have a home they need to sell. If one person wants to keep it, it is important to keep in mind what it will cost over the long run. If one person made significantly more than the other, there may be alimony payments. Finally, if the marriage lasted a decade or more, one person may be able to draw on an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits.

Couples may want to consider whether they would be able to negotiate an agreement for property division without going to court. This could give them more flexibility in how they divide their property although as is the case with the home, they should make sure they consider any taxes or other expenses associated with the various assets that could reduce their value. Negotiating can also be less expensive and less stressful than going to litigation.

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