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Financial pitfalls in divorce for baby boomers

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Divorce may be on the rise among some Michigan baby boomers. A study by Bowling Green State University found that from 1990 to 2010, the divorce rate doubled for people 50 and older. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that the most common areas of dispute in a divorce for this group are business interests, retirement accounts and pensions, and alimony.

People who are partners in a business might want to consider having all partners and their spouses sign buy-sell agreements. This may reduce the likelihood of a dispute over valuation. Splitting retirement savings may result in financial difficulties because it can be more expensive to maintain two households instead of one. Finally, if one person has to pay spousal support, this could delay that person's retirement.

There is a number of reasons that this age group might be divorcing at a higher rate than in the past. Longer lifespans and fewer children may mean that couples who are dissatisfied with their marriages are more likely to seek a divorce. Furthermore, women working outside the home may be more likely to have the financial ability to leave the marriage than in the past.

Even a high-asset divorce may be accompanied by a number of financial issues. When a couple has spent decades acquiring investments, property division may be particularly complex. There might be real estate in other states or countries, or one person may try to hide assets from the other. However, if the couple can work together to make an agreement about property division, they might be more satisfied with that division than if a judge made the decision in litigation. Furthermore, if they are unhappy with the judge's decision, there might not be recourse for getting it changed. Mediation may help a couple in conflict reach a compromise.

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