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Gray divorce can create significant financial challenges for older adults; minimizing costs with an uncontested divorce may help ease this problem.

Divorce creates a financial burden for most couples, between the direct costs and the increased expenses of living independently afterward. For the growing number of Pittsburgh couples seeking “gray divorces” after age 50, the associated financial challenges may be especially substantial. For some of these couples, uncontested or no-fault divorce may offer a way to minimize these financial burdens.

Unique Financial Issues

USA Today explains that married people who were in strong financial standing may still face significant issues after gray divorce. Compared to younger adults, gray divorcees have fewer years to earn extra money to cover the expenses of retiring alone. Older adults who left the workforce or gave up career opportunities may especially have trouble offsetting their financial losses.

These losses aren’t trivial, either. The cost of two retirements may be 30 to 50 percent higher than the cost of one joint retirement. This is because divorced spouses must separately cover costs that married spouses share, such as living expenses, vehicle ownership and in-home care.

Unfortunately, a contested divorce may add to these significant financial burdens. Divorce expenses can vary greatly. However, The Huffington Post notes that contested divorce costs can include attorney’s fees, court fees, mediation fees and more. In 2011, CNBC stated that a divorce can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Avoiding these steep expenses through uncontested divorce may benefit many older couples.

Uncontested Divorce Benefits

If spouses divorcing in Pennsylvania can agree on the terms of the divorce, they can pursue an uncontested or no-fault divorce. Uncontested divorce can spare spouses from significant legal costs and time spent disputing the terms of the divorce.

Besides financial savings, there are a few reasons that uncontested divorce may make sense for older spouses. Older couples often have accumulated sizable assets, which could take significant time to value and divide in court. Spouses may save time by reaching their own agreement on property division. Older spouses may also be good candidates for uncontested divorces because they typically have adult children. This eliminates the need for creating child custody arrangements.

Still, spouses should understand the potential limitations of an uncontested divorce. As one example, spouses may not have the power to divide certain complex assets. The New York Times notes that retirement accounts can only be divided with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Without this official order, any agreements that spouses make regarding these assets will be ineffective. It’s important for spouses to consider these potential issues before deciding on how to approach their divorce.

Planning Ahead

Spouses who have questions or concerns about pursuing an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania should consider consulting with a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to help a spouse understand the uncontested divorce process and evaluate whether this is the most favorable option.

Keywords: divorce, gray divorce, retirement, property