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Timing of divorce may affect outcomes

It's a well known statistic that roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, and an even higher proportion of second and third marriages. What fewer people realize is that when the possibility of divorce materializes into a reality, timing can make a big difference in how things settle out.

Health care is one thing to consider when weighing the timing of divorce. Because spouses are often covered by one another's health insurance plans, divorce can have a major effect not only on a spouse's premiums, but also on their coverage and treatment options. Therefore, some couples opt to delay divorce in the interest of protecting their access to health care.

Similarly, spouses who share business assets often must consider how the timing of a split may affect the company -- and vice versa. For instance, if the company is about to be bought, sold or made public, it may be wise to avoid having the divorce take place at the same time.

Another way that timing can affect divorce is with regard to the age of the spouses themselves. More and more in recent years, older Americans are choosing to divorce, often after decades of marriage. In fact, the divorce rate among people age 50 and older has doubled since 1990, in part because people are putting off divorce until they feel financially secure enough to make it on their own.

However, because older couples typically do have more shared assets than younger couples, divorce after 50 can be more complicated in some ways. For instance, because there may be more to divvy up, the process of deciding who gets what in a property settlement may be more contentious. In addition, the division of retirement assets adds another wrinkle to divorce negotiations later in life.

For a more thorough discussion of these and other issues that may be affected by the timing of a divorce, it is a good idea to talk things over with a skilled divorce lawyer.

Source: MarketWatch, “When’s the worst time to get a divorce?” Quentin Fottrell, May 22, 2014

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