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Boomers: Think twice before you get divorced

A word of caution for elderly couples thinking of getting a divorce.

The boomer uncoupling trend has become so common it even has a name: gray divorce. I'm happily married, but some of my friends who've been married for over 30 years have suddenly decided to call the whole thing off. It puzzles me why so many 60s flower children are ditching all the wedded peace and love in their later years.

A word of caution is in order. Before you decide the grass will be greener as a single, consider the financial impact of divorce. In general, a divorced boomer is significantly poorer than a married one. Experts estimate that it costs at least 30 percent more to live as a carefree single than as a couple. That's because you'll likely need your own bachelor pad, a stand-alone medical policy, and perhaps even a new car. Vacations and eating out will suddenly be more expensive without a partner to share the costs.

Once you finish splitting up the pots and pans, some of the other financial downsides set in. Your 401(k)s are likely to be split in two, so you may have to defer your retirement plans, and when you go solo you'll likely pay higher taxes and miss some cherished tax breaks you've become accustomed to, like the mortgage deduction.

And there's more. If you spent your adult life being a great mom, the credit bureaus may find you invisible. Worse yet, maybe your spouse has been secretly racking up credit card debt for which you will now be held jointly responsible. So before you decide to untie the well-worn knot, take a long, hard look at the lifestyle changes in store for you. You may just decide to love the one you're with.  

About the author

Lorie Eber speaks and blogs about aging and elder care at AgingBeatstheAlternative.com.
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I have thought long and hard about my divorce after 25 years. Happily, both my ex and I have remarried and we are on very friendly terms and hold some family events together. I ask myself would I have been better off to have stayed together, and the final answer is no. But it is a closer balancing scale than I thought at the time we separated. At age 60, I miss having a family tradition, a personal long history with someone, shared old memories, and easier and more frequent contact with my kids.

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