Although divorce rates in the U.S. have declined in the past ten years, the divorce rate for couples over 50, known as “late-life divorce,” has doubled between 1990 and 2009. There are many reasons for this phenomenon, and older couples have some unique circumstances that make these divorces different from those that occur between younger spouses. These unique issues require the assistance of a competent divorce attorney so that an individual will be taken care of in his or her golden years.
Why Are Couples Splitting Up Later in Life?
Many older couples separate for some of the same reasons that younger ones do – removal of the social stigma from being divorced, infidelity, drifting apart in their relationship, or the stresses of life which are sometimes compounded by aging. Since people generally are living longer, many decide that they would rather spend the remaining portion of their lives with someone with whom they feel more compatible.
Special Issues for Late-Life Divorce
Since most people over age 50 do not have minor children, the weightiest issues that they face in a divorce tend to be financial. Since there is less time to recover financially from the divorce, matters related to property division, retirement, Social Security Benefits, and health care costs have greater significance.
One of the most contentious issues can be division of the marital residence. If the older couple still has children living at home, they may decide that it is in their best interests to keep the residence so that the family has some stability in the midst of the changes associated with a divorce. Couples should consider the cost of maintaining the home as weighed against the benefit of having it for the children. The spouse who receives the home in the marital settlement will have to give up other assets in return. If the divorcing couple decide to liquidate the home, they should consider doing it before the divorce in order to take advantage of the tax benefits of being married.
There are a number of questions surrounding retirement assets that any older couple who is thinking about divorce should consider, including:
●the possibility of survivor benefits if your ex-spouse die
●your entitlement to contributions to the retirement plans after the divorce
●the tax ramifications of distributions
●loans against a 401(k) that may need to be repaid before dividing the funds
●the possibility of obtaining a hardship withdrawal from retirement funds should that become necessary after the divorce
Social Security Benefits
Couples that are married longer than ten years can obtain Social Security Benefits based on their former spouse’s records. This is something that needs to be considered when deciding if, or when, to divorce.
Health Insurance and Costs
As couples age, the need for good health coverage becomes more of an issue. If one spouse depended on the health insurance from the other spouse’s employment, then the matter of the cost of health care needs to be taken into account.
Divorce is generally a difficult time for most people, and the older the couple is, the more important it is that they have the legal assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. We are very experienced in all matters relating to divorce and can assist you in crafting a marital settlement that will be adequate for your needs as you get older. We provide legal representation to the residents of West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Worth, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Boca Raton in Palm Beach County. We also assist family law clients who reside in Broward, Hendry, Martin, Miami-Dade, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie Counties. Contact us today to schedule a consultation: (561) 429-3924 or via email at [email protected].