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Links between gray divorce and financial status

Older Virginia residents who are feeling dissatisfied with their marriage has plenty of company. The trend known as gray divorce has been making headlines since the publication of a study from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research in 2012. Building upon this research that showed rising numbers of older people ending their marriages, the Institute for Family Studies investigated the causes of these later-in-life divorces.

Although many have speculated that empty nests, retirement and longer lifespans have contributed to the downfall of marriages among the over-50 demographic, researchers from the institute identified financial issues as an indicator of gray divorce. The results of a longitudinal study of over 5,000 couples found factors that property ownership significantly lowered the incidence of divorce. People with at least $250,000 in assets divorced 38 percent less often than couples with $50,000 or less in assets. Essentially, financial security protected people from splitting after decades of marriage.

Gray divorce often leads to financial troubles, including poverty. People who got divorced after age 50 collectively had one-fifth of the assets of older married couples. Divorced woman in this age group experienced a 27 percent rate of poverty, and men fell into poverty after divorce at a rate of 11 percent.

A person contemplating the end of a marriage could gain information about the potential financial effects of a split from an attorney. Research by the attorney could reveal how retirement accounts might be split and whether spousal support might need to be paid. An attorney might protect the client's rights during negotiations for a divorce settlement by advocating for an equitable division of assets.

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