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Handling the end of a marriage after retiring can be difficult

Divorce is difficult at any age, but, if the end of a marriage comes after people have already retired, it is even more complicated. Californians categorized as baby boomers who are contemplating a divorce might not know where to turn or what steps to take. These divorces are commonly referred to as "gray" divorces, but, regardless of how they are described, people should be cognizant of the foundational factors and be fully prepared.

As with any extended relationship, there are bound to be changes as time passes. If that results in people deciding they no longer want to be together, then it is wise to think about how to address key issues. Social Security payments are vital to older people and the divorce could impact these payments. A person may be able to receive up to 50% of the spouse's Social Security payment if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years and the spouse receiving the portion has not remarried.

Property division can be difficult. Older people will frequently own their home and perhaps have a vacation residence. For many, selling the property might be preferable to maintaining a residence that was meant for two people and be saddled with the accompanying costs. Household items might not be first and foremost in a person's mind, but these, too, can cause disagreements. If there are family inheritances and heirlooms, the person who brought them into the marriage generally gets to keep them.

For a spouse who earned less or was a homemaker, it can be tough finding work at an advanced age. This might make alimony necessary. Support is a common reason for contentious battles, so it is imperative to think about the cost of living, the lifestyle of the spouses during the marriage and how much will be needed to survive comfortably. This is true for the paying spouse and the receiving spouse.

When dealing with the legal issues and other problems that commonly accompany a divorce, it is wise to have legal advice. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance and assist with these and other issues to make the process easier. Calling for a consultation before taking the next step is a good decision.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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