A divorce after the age of 50 is much more common than it once was. People are living longer, and couples who have been together for decades sometimes feel they want a fresh start.

However, divorce later in life comes with its own unique issues, and you will want to prepare for the changes to ensure a brighter future.

The financial picture

In order to have a sound financial future, you must first have a good understanding of your current finances. You and your spouse have acquired assets of various kinds during your marriage, which may make the property division phase of your divorce complex. Keep in mind that in the division of assets, you may have tax consequences to consider. This, in turn, will affect the amount of money that is available to you after the divorce is final.

In mediation and collaborative divorce you have the option to work with a neutral financial specialist who can help you compile your assets and debts. They can also help you make a plan moving forward that can set both spouses up for a successful retirement.

The marital home

The family home is a major focus of property division. You may think you want to keep it, but remember that this is an illiquid asset. When you decide whether or not to keep the family home you should consider whether you are able to offset the equity of the home with other assets in order to buy out your spouse. You should also consider that the home will require maintenance and occasional repairs. There are property taxes to pay, and you and your spouse may still make a monthly mortgage payment. Keeping the house will take a bite out of your budget, so you may want to consider giving it up in favor of liquid assets that continue to grow, such as a 401(k) retirement account. Often couples decide to sell the marital home and divide the equity so they can both move on to smaller or more economical homes.

The expense of divorce

A traditional divorce in court can go on for months and can be expensive. To begin the new chapter of your life on sound financial footing, you may want to consider mediation or collaborative divorce. These options have gained in popularity because they take much less time than litigation and are more economical. It is also an option that is as effective for older divorcing couples with complex assets to divide as it is for those whose net worth is more modest.

In mediation you will work with a neutral mediator to come to agreements on each issue of your divorce. You will meet in a series of private meetings to work through the steps of the case and once your judgment is signed you can send it off to the court without having to appear in court.

Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation in that you do not appear in court. The difference is that you each have your own attorney, your own divorce coach, and you share a financial specialist. For some couples having their own attorney and coach to turn to during difficult meetings can be very helpful. In both mediation and collaborative divorce you can have a less acrimonious divorce process. By coming to agreements together you can preserve more control over your future and save money and time.