Gradually, you and your spouse drifted apart. Even though you have been together for decades, the frustration, uncertainty and distance have grown to the point that you no longer want to be together. This is new territory: “gray divorce” – one involving couples who are 50 and older.

Since the 1990s, the divorce rate for people 50 and older has doubled, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. The study also revealed that the divorce rate for people 65 years and older has tripled since 1990.

Review finances and help your children

When going through a gray divorce, you face a unique set of challenges, so careful planning is necessary to avoid pitfalls. Here are some matters to consider:

  • Expect financial challenges: Your income sources and employment opportunities may shrink after 50. Your retirement investments are likely halved, too. However, understand your financial needs and that duplicating your married lifestyle may not be possible. Fight for what you deserve, and that includes alimony.
  • Give careful review to finances: Assemble all documents related to marital assets such as your home or condo, vacation home, pensions, retirement investments and valuable collections. This will help you understand what rightfully belongs to you. Also, be on the lookout for hidden assets made by your spouse.
  • Health insurance concerns: For years, you have received health care benefits through your spouse’s employer. This will change, but you have few options. While Medicare may be several years away, you may have to secure health care benefits through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Child-related issues: How will you support them? Perhaps you have children attending college. You and your spouse must meet a workable agreement. Do not forget the emotional aspect of divorce also may strike your adult children. Counseling sessions may help.

These are just some of the issues that need attention when going through a gray divorce.

Redefining the unknowns

While gray divorce may initially represent a life of unknowns, you can change that by pursuing what you want and need during the divorce process. Then, you take the steps toward what you want to do in laying the foundation for an optimistic post-divorce future.