Study finds dramatic increase in divorce rates for those over 50

The divorce rate in the United States has remained fairly steady at fifty percent over recent years. Although divorce is more socially acceptable than it once was, restarting a single life after marriage is never easy. This is particularly true for those who have spent decades in marriage prior to deciding to split.

A new study out of Ohio State University has rekindled conversation about social norms and divorce in the U.S. The recently released study found that although the overall divorce rate has remained steady, the rate for those divorcing over the age of 50 has doubled.

Details of the study

The study was conducted using data compiled by the 1990 U.S. Vital Statistics Report and the 2009 American Community Survey. Researchers found the divorce rate for Americans ages 50 and older doubled from 1990 to 2009.

The study specifically found over 600,000 individuals over the age of 50 filed for divorce in 2009 alone and further confirmed previous studies finding an increased risk of divorce in second marriages compared to first.

Factors to consider when divorcing later in life

Although various factors contributed to the separations, there were special considerations that every couple within this group needed to consider, particularly regarding the split of retirement assets.

It is imperative that those beginning the divorce process later in life be aware of their financial standing. If possible, gather information on all separate and joint accounts including business interests prior to the divorce. Having this information will help ensure that a divorce settlement is an accurate reflection of the assets present in the marriage.

In addition to reviewing all bank accounts, business interests and stock portfolios, also compile a list of retirement assets. This can include 401k plans and pensions. In addition to coming up with an agreement on how to split these assets in a divorce settlement, a QDRO or qualified domestic relations order is also often recommended. The QDRO is a document that provides instructions to the pension plan administrator on how to split the retirement assets.

Divorce is always complex, but divorce later in life requires a unique considerations. Instead of reviewing child custody and child support matters a settlement should include specific language regarding retirement assets. If you or a loved one is considering a divorce, contact an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected.