The signs were subtle and then blatant. After decades of marriage, you know that your union is in trouble. Your spouse “turned the key,” while you had expected to stay married until one of you died. For nearly anyone, gray divorce causes emotional and financial turmoil.

Perhaps in your marriage, you sacrificed so much that your needs and wants always took a back seat to your spouse’s. That will have to change. Now, it is time to look out for yourself. You have spent nearly your entire adult life with your spouse. And during your lengthy marriage, the two of you accumulated many assets, some of which are complicated.

Look out for yourself, look to future

This may come as surprise, but the divorce rates among couples 50 and older are growing, nearly doubling since the 1990s, according to the Pew Research Center. Here are some key financial steps one must take in gray divorce:

  • Complete a financial inventory: Prepare yourself and review your finances, including every asset and debt accumulated during the marriage. This includes the house, retirement accounts, credit card debt, second homes and antiques. Gather all documents and information available.
  • Search for any hidden assets by your spouse: Such scenarios surface when couples split acrimoniously.
  • Closely review retirement assets: This includes IRAs, 401(k)s and pension. People in lengthy marriages likely amassed quite a retirement portfolio. As a result, the vast majority of them are marital assets, usually divided equally.
  • Look to the future and determine your needs: You want to maintain your previous lifestyle, so start off by building emergency savings of at least a year. You also may pursue alimony, especially if you did not work during your marriage, worked only part-time or stayed home and raised your children.

There are many things you must do when going through a divorce. However, people involved in gray divorce cases should be extra vigilant. With assets now split and much smaller than what was expected, you must do their best to avoid any financial pitfalls.