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Tips for older adults who are getting a divorce

Older North Carolina couples may be more likely to get a divorce than younger couples. For people 65 and older, the divorce rate is three times higher than it was in the 1990s. Overall, divorce among older people is on the rise even though it is dropping among younger couples.

This can have serious financial implications for people who are either retired or on the verge of retirement. Retirement accounts may be divided, and individuals will have to make the money they intended to support them in one household stretch to two. The house may be sold, or one person might keep it; in the latter case, it is important to make sure it is affordable. One person may be required to pay alimony to the other, and for older adults, this alimony could be for life. A lower-earning spouse may also be able to draw benefits on the higher-earning spouse's Social Security contributions if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and certain other conditions are met.

Older adults may want to consult a financial professional to discuss how the divorce will affect their financial situation and what they should do. If they remarry, they may want to consider a prenuptial agreement as second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages.

Property is supposed to be divided equitably in North Carolina. An attorney may be able to help a person negotiate an agreement for property division in a divorce or strategize if it is necessary to go to court. Many couples prefer to try to reach an agreement without going to court, and an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation can sometimes help a couple work through conflict. Making an agreement outside of court can be quicker, less stressful and less expensive than going through litigation.

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