10 Hazards of Divorcing When You’re Older

"Gray divorce" is soaring as baby boomer couples call it quits in record numbers. Here's what you need to know before you head to splitsville in your golden years.

6. Insurance considerations

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If your ex-spouse handled insurance and other financial matters for both of you when you were married, you’ll have to learn how to do so on your own.

You may need separate car insurance and homeowners or renters insurance policies. You may want to consider disability and long-term care insurance policies, too. If you receive alimony or child support payments, you might also consider life insurance for the ex-spouse, should something happen to him or her.

7. Financial fine print

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If you’re newly divorced and nearing or in retirement, pay attention to some finer points, financial planners advise.

Make sure the beneficiaries on insurance policies, retirement accounts and bank accounts are up to date. This is one of the tips we offer in “10 Financial Moves That Keep You Sane During a Divorce.”

Additionally, don’t forget to update medical forms, living wills, power of attorney documents and trusts.

You’ll likely want to designate adult children to make medical and financial decisions for you if necessary, rather than leave that role to your former spouse, advisers say.

8. Surprise debt

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Watch out for a spouse’s secret debt.

In the nine states with community property laws — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — half of your spouse’s debt is generally yours, even if you did not sign the debt paperwork, according to legal site Nolo. (Alaska is an opt-in community property state that gives both parties the option to make their property community property.)

9. Handling the house

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Women often are more attached to the family home than men, financial advisers say. But a home can also become expensive and difficult to maintain after a late-in-life divorce.

If paying for upkeep is too much of a stretch, many advise selling and using the proceeds to get a smaller home.

10. Telling your adult kids

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Divorce is hard on kids no matter their age, says Karen Finn, a lawyer and “divorce coach” whose business is called The Functional Divorce.

“They never want the dream of their parents staying together swept away,” says Finn.

“Your divorce will impact your children,” she cautions. “Your job as a parent is to understand that your adult kids will need to have your support as they come to terms with your divorce because a parent’s job is never really done.”

For more advice to consider, check out “Divorcing? Why You Should Hire a New Financial Adviser.”

What’s your experience with gray divorce, your own or someone else’s? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.


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