For Pennsylvania couples at or approaching retirement age, the rate of divorce has escalated, especially as people lead longer, healthier and more active lives. The divorce rate for couples in the United States has seen an overall decline, but for couples over 50 years of age, the rate has continued to grow consistently since 1987. In total, the rate has grown in that time by over 50 percent, and one out of four couples makes the decision to divorce after age 50. This decision can be escalated as retirement approaches and couples have an “empty nest” after their adult children leave the home.

For people who have already retired or are close to doing so, a divorce can cause a number of severe impacts. This is especially true when it comes to the division of assets, properties and debts. Many older couples that have spent many years together have complicated and intertwined financial lives as well as savings on which both individuals are planning to live after retirement. These types of assets can include real estate, pension plans, investments, stocks, retirement savings accounts, 401(k) plans and other valuable belongings. In addition, other types of finances, like social security and life insurance, can also be a factor in a divorce.

At any age, divorce can be financially and emotionally difficult, and this can be accentuated for spouses that divorce at or near retirement age. In many cases, family and friends have become deeply accustomed to seeing the couple as one unit for most of their lives. Therefore, the emotional fallout of the divorce can have repercussions for others in the family.

People of any age who are planning to divorce should consult with a family law attorney in order to receive advice and representation about asset and property division and other divorce matters. A lawyer also can help older people deal with complicated issues of asset division, retirement planning and consultation with other financial professionals.