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Older individuals who divorce face higher poverty risks

Couples in Alaska who are over the age of 50 and who are considering ending their marriage should take steps to protect their finances. Divorce is on the rise for people who are older than 50, but divorced people are also more likely to end up in poverty than their single counterparts. While only 4 percent of couples over the age of 62 live in poverty, 14 percent of divorced men and 30 percent of divorced women in that age group are at or below the poverty level, according to recent research.

Furthermore, many older divorcing couples do not prioritize protecting their retirement accounts. Instead, they focus more on cash flow and other assets. However, with collaborative divorces increasing as well as the use of mediation, this may be changing. Couples who are going to be connected for life through children and grandchildren are recognizing the value of keeping the split amicable. This also may be necessary when there is a retirement plan that cannot be cashed out.

Those who are going through the process should make certain that they understand the terms of division for their retirement accounts. For example, if they agree to split an account, they should specify whether that means the whole account or just the amount that represents contributions made during the marriage.

Whether an older person is facing a high-asset divorce or one where fewer assets are involved, it may be helpful to work with a lawyer to ensure that retirement accounts and other assets are fairly divided. Alaska is also unique among the states because it allows couples to decide whether their assets are community property or not, and this might add an extra layer of complexity to the divorce. In some cases, people may be hesitant to make a claim on a spouse's retirement account or may feel it is better to keep an asset such as a house, but they should keep in mind that long-term financial security is also important.

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