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As more older couples divorce, this new mortgage may be on the horizon

Posted July 26

"Gray" divorces have been the one group on the increase as divorce overall stabilizes or decreases, according to demographers. The "gray" refers to older couples, most of them divorcing after long-term marriages.

Bowling Green State University researchers reported not long ago that the number of people 50 and over divorcing in 2014 was twice the number doing so in 1990, the Deseret News reported.

As longtime marriages break up, a new financial product that caters to these older, former couples is emerging, although it's not around yet, according to Forbes. It's called a "divorce mortgage," and Richard Eisenberg writes that it "could be a welcome development for older homeowners who want to stay in their houses or condos after a marital breakup but don’t have the cash to do so."

According to The Telegraph, the divorce mortgage is being bandied about as a possibility in Great Britain, where "lenders are in talks" about its viability. It would work something like this: A couple would decide who should stay in the home — for various reasons, from fondness for it to a desire not to disrupt children — then that individual could borrow enough money to buy the former partner out.

"The bank would also 'lend' them an extra amount that would be deposited in a savings account and used to pay the interest on this loan over a set period of time," the article explained. "At the end of that period the borrower could either sell, paying the lender back from the equity in the property, or take on the full mortgage themselves if their circumstances had changed."

So far, it's a dream and fodder for discussion. But Forbes' Eisenberg wrote that "such a financial product might be exceedingly helpful in the United States, too, given the rise in the 'gray divorce' rate."

Nextavenue.com and writer Linda Melone suggest a variety of reasons for later-life divorce, including boredom, the accumulation of small grievances that become too much, financial issues and more.

There's no question that couples who divorce when they're older face some tricky financial decisions. With older couples, there's almost always some kind of alimony awarded, according to a story in U.S. News and World Report.

A recent article in the Deseret News outlined some of the other financial changes, from the fact that a retirement account typically gets split in half to possible loss of health insurance for one spouse.

It also noted research from Bowling Green State University that found women over 62 who divorce will have "smaller Social Security benefits, on average, than other single women and men," according to a New York Times article that said a fourth of them will live in poverty.

Divorce mortgages could become reality as early as by the end of the year, Forbes said.

Email: lois@deseretnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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