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Coping financially with divorce at an older age

The Pew Research Center reports that divorce among older people has doubled since the 1990s, and for people age 65 and older, rates are three times as high. At the same time, divorce among younger people is on the decline. This means that older people in Pittsburgh may be more likely to get a divorce than their younger counterparts, and this can leave them with certain financial challenges.

One of the major ones is dealing with retirement. Couples usually plan with the assumption that their retirement savings will support them in one household, but divorce means dividing those savings, including IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts. Couples may also own a home. They can sell this and split the proceeds, or one person may keep it. However, the person who keeps it should make sure that this is an affordable choice.

Alimony and Social Security payments may help some people after divorce. While alimony may be temporary among younger couples, for older couples who have been in long marriages, it could be permanent. Lower-earning individuals may also be able to draw Social Security benefits on a higher-earning ex-spouse’s record. The individual must remain unmarried and must be at least 62, and the marriage must have lasted for at least 10 years.

While going to court is necessary in some divorces, many couples prefer to try to come to an agreement using an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, first. This can be cheaper, less time-consuming and less stressful than going to litigation, and it gives the couple the opportunity to come to a creative agreement on property division that suits their individual situation. An attorney may be able to assist with these negotiations, which might be less adversarial than going to court as it focuses on finding a mutually satisfying solution.


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