Most older spouses in North Carolina who’ve been together for many years seem like they’re on fairly stable ground marriage-wise. However, divorce among Americans 50 and over has been dramatically on the rise over the past quarter century. In fact, divorce rates have either leveled off or fallen among other age groups. Also, more than half of all “gray divorces” involve couples who had been wed for 20 years or more.

Oftentimes, older couples separate because they have simply grown apart over the years. The increased importance of a sense of happiness and fulfillment, the disappearance of the stigma associated with leaving a marriage and significant economic gains made by women are some of the other possible reasons for the spike in gray divorces. Seniors are also increasingly meeting like-minding people through online dating websites and apps.

Once an older couple makes the decision to untie the knot, there are usually several financial issues to consider. For starters, alimony is almost always granted for the lower-earning spouse when long-term marriages end. Paying attention to the tax implications associated with certain assets could further help an older spouse minimize retirement money losses. Pension plans may also offset alimony for the paying spouse. With the marital home, a soon-to-be-ex is typically advised to consider costs related to its upkeep to determine if it’s really worth fighting for. There are sometimes other assets that could be more beneficial than the home.

Some older couples insist that they plan to have a simple divorce, especially if there is little disagreement over assets and children are grown and no longer a concern. With situations like this, it’s still advised that a divorcing older spouse seek input from an attorney to increase their odds of benefiting from a fair settlement. A lawyer may also steer a client toward financial advisers and other professionals who can help minimize losses. If a later-life re-marriage occurs post-divorce, an attorney may suggest a prenuptial agreement to protect existing assets.