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Taking care of finances before and after divorce

Divorce can put a former spouse under financial and emotional stress. For seniors, the process may be especially destabilizing financially as it can be shocking to go from a two-income household to just a single income. However, seniors in Virginia who are approaching or going through a divorce can take steps to mitigate the financial harm.

The divorce rate for Americans age 50 and older is double what it was in the 1990s. The phenomenon of divorcing later in life has been called "gray divorce." Those who are going through a gray divorce should keep emotions out of their financial decisions, gather their paperwork and work to maximize retirement income.

People are vulnerable during divorce, and it can be easy to rationalize emotional decisions. It's common for a new ex-spouse to make efforts to protect their image in social groups. Someone might spend money on things they can't afford to make themselves look or feel better. However, the best course is to plan spending and keep emotions out of finances.

Among the important documents that should be gathered are tax returns for at least the previous three years, credit card statements, bank statements, insurance papers and retirement account information. In order to maximize income during retirement, an ex-spouse should be sure they're getting as much as possible from Social Security and pension plans. If the marriage lasted at least 10 years, a person may be entitled to collect Social Security based on their ex-spouse's work record.

In a case where a Virginia couple is divorcing later in life, an attorney might be able to help by identifying and categorizing assets as separate or marital property. Legal counsel could also negotiate the terms of property division.

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