What are the special challenges of getting a divorce after a long-term marriage?

Divorce is seldom easy, but divorce after a thirty- or forty-year marriage does present special challenges. Many of the issues couples face in any divorce will be doubly problematic in a later-in-life termination of a marriage. Some of the complications include the following.

1. Determining the value of pre-marital assets, as well as liabilities, must be kept in the forefront. Don’t assume that because you keep separate bank accounts you will keep what you thought was yours. All assets will be divided. Be careful to avoid the trap of trying to hide assets, because this will ultimately undermine your credibility in court.

2. What happens to inheritances? By law, inheritances are not considered marital property, unless they have been commingled with the family finances. An inheritance is treated as a separate property belonging to the person who received it.

3. Determining alimony gets dicier in later years. Not only the amount but also the duration of alimony has to be settled.

4. Social Security has to be re-considered, another complication.

5. Pension plans, IRAs and similar retirement disbursements will need to be addressed.

6. Life insurance is another item that may have given you security while you were together. How this unfolds is going to be another matter.

One study found that only 24% of all Baby Boomers are confident they will have enough savings to last through retirement. Getting an accurate snapshot of your financial situation is something you will want to address in advance of any decision to part company.