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What is 'gray divorce' and why does it matter?

There has been a divorce phenomenon that has shown no signs of slowing down in recent years. Dubbed "gray divorce," the phenomenon relates to the staggering rise in divorce rates for people over the age of 50. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in the 1990s, only five in every 1,000 married adults were divorced. In 2015, that figure was up to 10 in every 1,000 married adults.

At the older end of the spectrum the "gray divorce" trend is even stronger. For married adults over the age of 65, about two people in every 1,000 married adults was divorced in the 1990s. In 2015, that figure was up to six in every 1,000 married adults.

It's an interesting movement that is taking hold across the country, but there are some obvious concerns that older people should have given the rising divorce rate. At that age, they have to consider the financial impact that a divorce would have on them going forward. Additionally, given their older age, it is more likely that they have accumulated a lifetime of assets. Dividing these assets and handling them during the divorce process could be quite complicated.

Ultimately, regardless of age, divorce is meant as a tool to make an unhappy marriage turn into a happy life for the splitting spouses. For those that want to pursue this path, they should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

Source: CNBC, "A costly 'gray divorce' can upend your retirement plans," June 21, 2017

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