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Dealing with finances following a gray divorce

In the past 25 years, the divorce rate has doubled for people older than 50. These "gray divorces" may present certain financial issues since the spouses are nearing retirement. However, there are steps that couples in Missouri can take to protect their finances during a late-life separation.

A couple should prepare to meet with an attorney by putting together a list of assets as well as the employment history for each spouse. The assets list can serve as the basis to begin thinking about property division. It's important to keep past employment in mind because people may have money from a deferred benefit plan, stock option, pension or other sources that they have forgotten about.

If one spouse will pay alimony to the other, couples should talk about how this will continue to be allocated if the paying spouse becomes disabled, has a drop in income or dies. One option is for there to be a lump sum paid instead of monthly payments. Life insurance might cover death while other types of insurance may take care of disability or a change in income.

Some people may be able to draw Social Security retirement benefits on a spouse's work record if the marriage lasted longer than 10 years. A final consideration for spouses is changing beneficiary designations on accounts and ownership on titles.

After decades of marriage, a couple's finances may be entwined in complicated ways. However, it's still possible for them to negotiate a way to separate those finances. If negotiation is simply not possible, they can go to court, but the advantage of negotiating with attorneys outside of court is that the couple has more control over the final outcome.

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