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Unique considerations for people divorcing after 50

Many couples who head to South Florida to spend their retirement years or buy a home with the plan of retiring here decide they'd rather spend these latter years of their lives unmarried. While the overall divorce rate has been declining, the number of couples in their 50s and older who are divorcing has been rising.

The stakes are higher for many couples in the "gray divorce" category because they've already gotten most of the money they're going to earn throughout their lives. Now, they are looking forward to relying on a nice nest egg of retirement account savings, investments and government benefits. That's why it's essential to get your fair share of all of this money in your divorce.

Following are a few things to be aware of if you're considering divorce over 50:

-- Social Security: If you're nearing Social Security eligibility age and your marriage has lasted almost ten years, you may want to consider delaying the action until you hit that ten-year mark. If you do, and don't remarry, you can collect ex-spouse benefits.

-- Retirement savings: Since Florida isn't a community property state, your and your spouse's retirement assets aren't automatically split evenly, so working out the distribution can be tricky. Further, you may want to talk with your attorney, tax and/or financial advisors about getting a qualified domestic relations order. If you allocate the portion of your spouse's retirement savings into a QDRO, it remains tax-deferred. This and other smart moves can save you unnecessary tax penalties.

-- Income: Women are particularly hard-hit economically by divorce. According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report, women's income saw a 41 percent drop, while men's suffered a smaller (yet still significant drop) of 23 percent. A good spousal support agreement can assist older women who left full-time work to raise a family and can't just jump into a high-paying job.

It's essential to get a handle on what you want your post-divorce financial situation to be before you make the move. Your Florida family law attorney and experienced financial professionals can help you plan and work towards a settlement that doesn't send your retirement plans up in smoke.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Don’t Let Divorce Sabotage Your Retirement Plans," Arielle O'Shea, NerdWallet, Nov. 07, 2016

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