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Gray divorces: What should you keep in mind?

Getting divorced after 30 or more years of marriage is no longer as surprising as it once was—people are living longer, healthier lives, and social taboos against divorce are not as strong as they were in the past. Many people who get a "gray" divorce after decades of marriage when other couples have settled in for the long haul don't see divorce as a bitter ending. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to live out the rest of their years as they see fit, happier than they were while married.

If this applies to you, there are a couple things that you need to keep in mind.

-- It may be time to sell the house.

Keeping the house may sound important at first, but you're going to have to maintain that house with half the income. In addition, keeping the house means giving up something else of equal value—like a portion of your spouse's pension or investments that could provide a monthly stipend. It may be smarter to sell the house and divide the assets so that you can both start your new lives with a little money in the bank instead of being saddled with a potential money pit.

-- Consider mediation over litigation.

If you and your spouse are able to work together to end things amicably, consider mediation over litigation. Mediation can work when there are only a few issues that are in dispute and both parties are willing to make concessions to the other side. If either party is acrimonious or determined to totally control the outcome of the proceedings, mediation probably will fail.

If you can agree to mediation, it can be a lot cheaper for you and your spouse to divorce, which leaves you both with more money in the bank.

No matter how long you've been married, it can benefit you to seek out the services of a family law attorney early in the process. That way you can more clearly understand the financial implications of your divorce and start making realistic plans for your future.

Source: MarketWatch, "Divorcing after being married for decades? Here’s what to do," Dec. 17, 2016

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