When older adults in Massachusetts get a divorce, they face a potentially large impact on their finances and retirement plans. After years together, their asset situation may be complex. Since so-called “gray divorce” often happens near or after retirement, they may simply lack the time to recover financially the way they might have if they were younger. If you are in this age group and getting a divorce, careful planning is important.

Documenting assets and debts

Your first step should be to get a handle on all assets and debts. This may include identifying any assets that are owned by individuals as opposed to being marital property, having physical assets appraised for value, and gathering mortgage and other paperwork. In contentious divorces, you may want to take steps to ensure that your spouse does not try to hide assets.

Planning for the settlement

Understanding what your needs will be after the divorce will help you determine what the settlement should look like. Your divorce plans will probably change since you will no longer be with your spouse. Some people may want to make plans to create a foundation that will help the local community. Others may want to travel. If you have children or grandchildren, how much financial help do you want to give them? After the divorce, you may need to revise your estate plan and other paperwork.

Divorce can be hard at any age, but being organized and informed can make the process less difficult, especially for couples with complex financial situations. You may be able to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court if you and your spouse can keep the process reasonably amicable. You may want to work with an attorney even if you do plan on negotiation instead of litigation, and the attorney may work with you throughout the negotiation process.