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5 tips for women going through gray divorce

A "gray divorce" refers to a divorce of couples over the age of 50. Any divorce is difficult, but a divorce at this point in life can be extremely emotional and worrisome in regards to the future. In many cases, divorcing women of this age find themselves disadvantaged financially because their husbands were in charge of family finances or had most of the work experience.

If you are a woman going through, considering, or simply exploring the topic of gray divorce, here are five tips to keep in mind:

1. Collect as many financial records as possible.

Before starting or proceeding with the divorce process, make sure you gather at least a few years' worth of tax returns, financial statements, and your spouse's work history. You will want to know everything about your finances and ensure that your spouse is not hiding any assets from you, which is a more common occurrence than you might think.

2. Consider seeking spousal support.

Spousal support may be a necessary financial option in a gray divorce. Especially for women who have not worked in a long time and may be nearing retirement age, this can be a source of financial relief as you seek other avenues of income. The downside to spousal support is that it can be taxed as income, so weigh all your options before deciding on a course of action.

3. Look into life insurance.

While spousal support is one source of financial aid, it is extremely wise to have a fallback plan in case payments stopped, such as if something happened to your ex-spouse. Life insurance covers the possibility of your ex-spouse passing away and leaving you without support that you planned to have.

4. Consider whether keeping the family home is realistic.

Many people have the impulse to hold onto their homes in divorce because of emotional attachment or desiring some sense of familiarity as they head into an unknown future. While this is understandable, there are a lot of difficulties in keeping the family home, especially for women concerned about finances.

For one, the home offers no immediate cash flow, which is critical for older divorcing women who will face increased expenses after divorce. Whoever keeps the home will also have to pay its property taxes. On top of this, homes require general upkeep. Depending on your situation, keeping the home might be possible, but you need to very seriously examine your options and decide if this is the best choice for you.

5. Have a long-term financial plan.

While the divorce process and agreement are important and need to be carefully thought out, you also need a long-term vision. Do you need to/will you able to find employment again? What will your spending habits be? When is the best time to consider Social Security income? How will you prepare financially for retirement? Having a plan secured will save you the burden of a financially-difficult late-life experience.

You do not need to go through gray divorce alone. An experienced family law attorney can help you think about all of these questions and financial concerns, guiding you and working for a favorable divorce outcome that lets you continue a secure life.

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