The number of couples in Michigan and around the country who divorce over the age of 50 has increased more than two-fold over the last 20 years. However, experts say that splitting in later life, a phenomenon known as “gray divorce”, can create a unique set of financial problems.

In 1990, about 10% of all people who divorced were over the age of 50. However, by 2010, that percentage had climbed to 25%. Unfortunately, this trend comes with some major financial setbacks. For example, experts say that gray divorce typically causes a couple to lose 50% of their marital wealth. Worse, women end up losing more money than men in the split.

One of the main reasons gray divorce causes so many financial woes is that people don’t have enough time to recover from their losses. For instance, those who divorce over 50 don’t have as much earning time left before retirement as those who end their marriages in their 30s. Older people also don’t have as much time to rebuild their 401(k) or other financial investments before they may need them. In addition, divorce means people will have to pay for all of their own living expenses instead of dividing the burden between two incomes, and the strain of this new arrangement can come as a real shock to those who are unprepared.

Individuals facing a divorce might be able to avoid some financial losses by working with a family law attorney. The attorney could represent a client’s interests throughout the proceedings and do everything possible to negotiate a favorable settlement agreement.