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Steps to take to protect yourself in "gray divorce"

Conventional wisdom tells us that half of all marriages end in divorce. Actual statistics are not as clear, however. Some research indicates that the chances of divorce are significantly lower than 50-50, especially among people with college educations.

While the divorce rate overall appears to be declining, virtually all statisticians agree that it is on the rise among members of one particular age group: Those are over 50 years old. "Gray divorce" is booming; doubling between 1990 and 2010.

Forbes contributor and financial advisor Jeff Landers says he doesn't know why members of this age group divorce with greater frequency than any other, but he does know that so-called gray divorces deal "a heavier financial blow than divorces that happen earlier in life."

For one thing, younger people have more opportunities to right their financial ships after divorces. Landers says those who divorce past 50 also frequently run the risk of submerging into poverty in their older years, with stay-at-home moms especially vulnerable.

Research shows that slightly more than 1 out 4 women who got a gray divorce lives in poverty, compared to 1 out of 10 men.

Landers says he urges women facing the prospect of a so-called gray divorce to take steps while married to protect themselves, including maintaining a degree of financial independence. That can mean separate bank accounts (and credit ratings), and the setting aside of money for the proverbial rainy day.

For those facing the prospect of divorce, a skilled family law attorney can help you understand other steps to take to protect yourself, your family and your financial interests.

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