Divorcing Later in Life
If you are divorcing later in life, you might be wondering what unique issues you may face. A family law attorney can guide you through your options and help you to make the best decisions. If you are contemplating or going through a late-in-life divorce, call us at The Berger Firm in Covington, Kentucky.
Common Reasons People Divorce Later in Life
One basic reason that people divorce later in life is life expectancy—as people live longer, they do not want to spend the relatively large amount of their remaining time in an unhappy marriage. Retirement is another trigger; this drastic change in routine can cause marital problems. Another reason relates to what is commonly called the “sandwich generation”—or those who are in their fifties and sixties who have both aging parents and dependent older children to care for. This (and other financial burdens) can cause strain on a marriage.
Considerations When Divorcing
Division of Assets
There may be more advantages to keeping certain assets when an older couple divorces. For example, a spouse who keeps the family home will be eligible for a reverse mortgage at the age of 62 and may be able to receive rental income or draw on home equity during retirement. A divorce attorney can help you make the best decisions regarding your assets and help you argue for their implementation.
Alimony can be tricky for an older couple. For instance, the person receiving alimony might be truly unable (due to health or diminished earning power) to subsist without it, while the person paying alimony may be retired or nearing retirement, or may have diminished earning power themselves. It is important to talk to an attorney and your financial planner about how best to mitigate these issues and keep taxes low, whether you are giving or receiving alimony payments.
Dividing retirement benefits during a late-in-life divorce may require filing a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Your attorney can help you with this form and with questions you may need to answer before you file it, such as whether your spouse has taken out any loans against a 401(k) and whether you must pay tax penalties on any distributions.
You will most likely want to remove your ex-spouse’s name as a beneficiary on any life insurance policies you may have—a process with which your attorney can assist you.
The good news about Social Security benefits and late-in-life divorce is that you can still collect retirement benefits from your ex-spouse’s Social Security without affecting their benefits (or their spouse’s benefits if your ex remarries). Certain conditions must be met; for example, you and your ex-spouse must have been married for at least 10 years, you cannot have remarried, and your ex-spouse must be 62 years of age or older.
If your ex-spouse dies, you may be able to receive survivor benefits from your ex’s Social Security benefit if you meet certain conditions (such as having been married for at least 10 years and not having remarried before you reach 60 years of age).
Mistakes to Avoid
The main mistake to avoid if you are divorcing later in life is not creating a complete inventory of finances that clearly outlines assets and liabilities. A house, for example, can be an important asset, as discussed above; however, depending on the home’s condition and your personal situation, keeping the house can end up costing more money in taxes, upkeep, and repairs than it can generate through rental income or home equity. Every couple’s personal situation is different, and only a clear picture of your assets will allow you and your financial planner to figure out how best to divide them.
Another mistake many people make is not having a financial planner or attorney on your side. An attorney is an especially important resource in late-in-life divorce cases. They know the ins and outs of divorce law and proceedings and can help you to plan accordingly and argue for the share of the assets that you deserve.
Begin Your Next Chapter With Confidence
If you need legal support and advice during your late-in-life divorce, contact us at The Berger Firm. Our family law attorney John A. Berger is dedicated to working closely with you toward the goal of obtaining the best possible outcome in your divorce case. Call us today at The Berger Firm, serving Covington, Kentucky, as well as areas in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, including Newport and Florence.