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Colgan Law Firm LLC
Serving Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Johnson Counties in Kansas and Beyond

Divorce, older adults and finances

Some older adults in Kansas who divorce may find themselves struggling financially. Divorce is on the rise in this age group, with people 50 and older divorcing at a rate that is twice as high as it was in 1990. The rate is three times higher for those 65 and older.

There are a few risk factors that make these divorces more likely. Second marriages and nuptials of shorter duration are more vulnerable to divorce than first or longer-lasting marriages. Men whose parents were divorced are 35 percent more likely to get a divorce themselves; for women, that rate is 60 percent. However, while some may think older people are more prone to divorce due to a feeling of unfulfillment after retirement or struggle with empty nest syndrome, research shows that this is not the case. In general, older couples tend to divorce because they are no longer happy with the quality of the relationship.

Unfortunately, divorce can be financially destabilizing. A 2014 report found that it cost 79 percent as much for a single person age 65 or older to live alone compared to a couple. Women in particular may be affected. They are 80 percent more likely to live in poverty after divorce at the age of 65 or older compared to men.

This means it can be particularly important for older adults to divide property fairly. If one spouse does not work outside the home, the other spouse might also be required to pay spousal support. When dividing assets, spouses should make sure they understand the value of property once taxes, penalties and other types of expenses are factored in. For example, some retirement accounts will be taxed on distribution. A soon-to-be ex may want to work with an attorney to help ensure that they receive a fair share of the marital property.

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