Americans are living longer and, therefore, have potentially longer marriages.
But many couples also determined that they do not went to spend the remaining years of their lives together or want to live their lives differently. This may explain why the divorce rate for spouses over 50-years-old has increased and has given rise to unique issues.
Approximately 80 percent of these divorces are initiated by women, according to estimates. Longer life spans and more participation by women in the workforce has contributed to this.
Couples over 50 have different priorities and financial needs than younger couples who end their marriage. While child support may be less important, spouses should assure that their financial needs are met considering the potentially limited time left in their careers. Women over 50, in particular, may have little of their own assets to support themselves or keep a standard of living and may have been planning to rely on their husband's finances.
Even if reconciliation or mediation is possible, spouses need to disclose their assets to each other and their professional advisors. They should share financial information such as tax returns, financial statements, insurance policies and estimates on income and debt for the preceding year.
The couple should also prepare and disclose anticipated future expenses. These also include new cars, home repairs, possible health care expenses and college tuition and living expenses for their children and grandchildren. When either spouse had a business during the marriage, a qualified appraisal should be undertaken to assure that both spouses are reviewing the same information and the property is properly valued for possible division.
Wills, trusts, powers of attorney and beneficiary designations for insurance, annuities, pensions, retirement accounts and similar assets should also be reviewed. These assets may unintentionally pass on to former spouses or family members, regardless of a person's will, if the designations are not updated.
Financial professionals such as certified public accountants may provide guidance. However, lawyers can represent a spouse in negotiations, mediation or court proceedings. An attorney can help assure that their rights are protected and that a fair and reasonable decree is issued.