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Why pre-planning is helpful for older divorcing couples

The National Center for Family and Marriage at Bowling Green State University says approximately 25 percent of divorce actions are filed by couples aged fifty and up. Retirement is on the horizon, and yet older couples want to sever the bonds of marriage.

Because people who have been married for many years accumulate more assets than younger people, and perhaps more debt, divorce can be complicated. If an ultimate parting of the ways is inevitable, pre-planning on the part of one or both parties will help to smooth out the process.

Turning the page

Pre-planning is not meant to manipulate the divorce so that you come out on top at the expense of your spouse. It simply means thinking things through and making smart decisions about your life going forward. There will be financial matters, retirement or investment accounts, and overall estate planning issues to consider now that you and your soon-to-be ex will be going separate ways. Your children are probably grown, or at least off to college, so when the divorce is over, you will be making a new life just for yourself. Think about your interests, your career and what you see yourself accomplishing in the next few years.

Getting your affairs in order

Assess your present financial situation and what you expect it to look like post-divorce. Make copies of your bank statements, tax returns and other important documents, such as a prenuptial agreement if you signed one and retirement account information. Check the contents of any safety deposit boxes. Write up a list of assets, and, again, make a copy. Give these copies to your attorney.

Creating a support system

Even if you and your spouse manage to have an amicable divorce, there will still be times of sadness or depression. A support system will help you through these bouts of the blues. This group will mostly be close family members and one or two trusted friends. While you are in your pre-planning stage, however, the attorney you engage will be front and center in that group, offering legal counsel and expertise to help you get through the divorce and on the way to your new life.

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