You may be aware that at least half of marriages in the United States end in divorce, but what might the differences be when a couple has been married for many years? Forbes notes that there are many reasons why couples who divorce once they approach their senior years. If you are facing this type of split, which is sometimes known as gray divorce, understanding its meaning and consequences may help you protect yourself and your assets.

If you or your spouse initiates a gray divorce after your children grow up, leave the house and one of both of you realize you have grown apart, you may want to consider a trial separation before you proceed with a divorce. Separation, which does not legally dissolve the marriage, may give you time to attend couples’ counseling and mediation. While these actions cannot guarantee the prevention of a gray divorce, it may help you understand what caused the final split and help you move forward.

If you are already living on a fixed income, getting divorced after a long marriage can have a serious effect on your finances. However, there are a few ways you can protect assets like retirement accounts, stocks and money returned on investments. The court may place a particular value on the total sum of your assets but also consider what you and your spouse own together, such as vehicles and real estate.

Because you are experiencing divorce as a senior, the chances of you having amassed multiple assets may be higher than a young person whose marriage is ending, but understanding your options and rights can be the most effective way of protecting them.