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Divorce considerations for people 50 and older

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Michigan couples who are 50 and older might be more likely to get a divorce than in earlier decades. Since the 1990s, the divorce rate for this age group has doubled. These so-called "gray divorces" present a number of potential problems since people have been married for many years and may have acquired a number of assets.

Even an amicable divorce can be expensive, and in a contentious one, people may spend a great deal of money in an effort to secure their financial future. Divorcing so close to retirement age means people have less time to recover losses. Furthermore, there are pitfalls in dividing some assets. For example, it may be necessary to pay taxes on withdrawals from some types of retirement accounts or from liquidating brokerage accounts. People who fail to account for these costs when assessing the value of their assets may put themselves in a more financially vulnerable position.

The house may also be more expensive than anticipated. A person may hold onto it for sentimental reasons but then be unable to afford the mortgage and maintenance particularly if financial circumstances change. However, if the couple decides to sell the house, that can be a long and costly process. Expenses may include inspections and upgrades.

In a high net worth divorce, the process of dividing property may be particularly complex although it still might be possible to do so through negotiation rather than turning to litigation. Couples might have complex investment portfolios, real estate in other jurisdictions and valuable art and antique collections. If one person has been the primary breadwinner or owned a business, that person might be obligated to pay alimony to the other person or share business ownership or proceeds. If both own the business, they might decide to sell it or continue running it together.

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