With divorce on the rise among couples age 50 or older, New York residents who are contemplating ending a marriage should be aware that dividing marital assets will be more complicated for them than younger couples. That’s because older couples likely have been accumulating joint assets for decades, rather than a few years for younger couples.

Many of the issues will be the same for any divorcing couple, regardless of age. Bank accounts still need to be split and new estate plans drawn up. Dividing these assets not only will be more complex for older couples, this may bring surprises in the process. Jointly-held property may need to be sold. One or even both spouses may need to return to work because they don’t have enough money to live on one income, says a financial planner who specializes in divorce assets. The U.S. Government Accountability Office says a man’s income falls by 20 percent after a divorce; for women, that figure is 41 percent. Although age discrimination is illegal, older people may have trouble finding jobs that pay them enough.

Older women may be hit harder financially by a divorce than a younger woman. Baby boomer women often left the work place for several years to stay home raising the couple’s children. That means fewer years to pay into Social Security or pension plans.

A thorough review of a couple’s financial assets is necessary to ensure the division of property is fair. No stone should be left unturned in this quest. An attorney with experience in divorce law can assist a client in negotiating an equitable property settlement.

Source: NASDAQ, “Keep an Eye on Finances During a Divorce “, May 23, 2014