Of all the months out of the year, January is often the one in which Americans decide to file for divorce in more significant numbers than the rest. They’re often motivated to keep up appearances and make it look like their marriage is happy and healthy as a way of not ruining others’ holidays in November and December. As divorce rates have doubled among seniors ages 50 and over in recent years, this is something that they do as well.

Studies show that many seniors’ motivation to hide their impending divorces stems from them feeling less secure about their financial future. Spouses 50 and older may be nearing retirement or may be about to send their child off to college. They may have been married a long time and not be aware of how costly it can be to live on their own. Their fear of the unknown, especially the financial landscape that awaits them, can cause them internal turmoil.

The idea of having to split a retirement account just so the two of you can have your own households can be daunting. Dividing up certain assets like an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) may help you minimize your tax burden more than splitting up other investment accounts does.

One of the best things that you can do once you know that a divorce is on the horizon is to gather together your pay stubs, investment, retirement and savings account information and to sit down with an attorney to discuss your financial situation.

Although you may feel like it’s the right time to close joint accounts or change beneficiaries on your retirement plans or insurance policies, you shouldn’t as this can affect the outcome of your case. A property division attorney can advise you of how other steps that you may take in your divorce can affect your financial future as well.