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How divorce affects people 50 and older

The divorce rate for people 50 and older has doubled since 1990, but it is still half that of people under 50. Furthermore, some marriages of older adults in Florida and throughout the country are more vulnerable than others. For example, first marriages tend to be more stable than later marriages. Another predictor of divorce is the couple's financial situation. Couples who have $50,000 or less in assets are more likely to divorce than couples who have more than $250,000 in assets.

Factors that do not seem to predict the likelihood of divorce among older adults include children leaving home to go to college, health issues or retirement. More education correlates to a lower divorce rate for people under 50, but this does not seem to be a factor for older adults.

There are some long-lasting first marriages that end after decades. While marriages that lasted 40 years or more were the least likely to end, 12 percent of divorces among older adults are people who were married at least four decades. Furthermore, older adults who divorce may experience poverty. The poverty rate for older couples who live together is 4 percent, but it is 27 percent for women and 11 percent for men.

Ensuring financial security in a divorce can be important for older adults who may have fewer years in the workforce to recover from financial setbacks. Therefore, one aspect of property division that may be important is the retirement account. Even if one person has largely contributed to the account, both people may have the right to a portion of it. If one spouse's income is significantly higher than the other, that person may owe alimony to the other on a temporary or permanent basis.

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