The family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier offer five important tips people should consider while divorcing during their senior years.
As unfortunate as it may sound, divorce can happen for any couple at any age, no matter how long they’ve been married. Many people assume that once both spouses pass a certain age, divorce is unlikely. However, research is proving that this is far from the truth. According to a recent study by a group of university sociologists, the divorce rate for people ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, and almost half of those divorces stemmed from a first marriage.
Because divorce can happen at any time during the course of a marriage, it never hurts to be prepared. If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, and you’re both in your senior years, here are five tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you proceed.
- Alimony plays a significant role. While it is more common to see temporary alimony agreements in a divorce between young couples, those leaving long-term marriages could be locked into an agreement for the remainder of their lives. The regulations for alimony will vary for every case, but expect it to have a more prominent role.
- Opting for the house could be more costly. There is no wrong answer when asking yourself whether you want to fight for sole ownership of the marital home. However, keep in mind that by requesting full ownership of the house, your spouse could be granted a greater share of a pension or a smaller alimony obligation. It’s up to you (with the help of your divorce attorney of course) to determine the appropriate course of action you wish to pursue given your projected financial situation post-divorce.
- Retirement savings will be split evenly. Retirement funds and other assets will most likely be divided evenly. If you know you and your spouse are heading towards divorce, obtain documentation reflecting any pre-marital interest in any retirement assets to assist in determining what portion, if any, can or should be excluded from the category of divisible marital property.
- In regards to children, they may be older, but not irrelevant. Fortunately, child support and visitation agreements are removed from the equation for the majority of senior divorces. However, it’s not unusual for parents to provide financial support for adult children. While adult children may want this support to continue, it’s not typically included in a formal divorce agreement. Therefore, parents are often left with the difficult decision of whether or not to continue support, and if so, where the funds will come from once the divorce is finalized. Also, hearing that your parents are divorcing, especially after decades of marriage, can be difficult for children of all ages. Don’t feel obligated to expose every nitty-gritty detail of your divorce, but don’t hide it either. Some children, even if they are adults, may need extra reassurance from their parents.
- Befriending your soon-to-be ex could pose serious problems. More times than not, a divorce between seniors means there is a long, emotional history to consider. You may have experienced major life milestones together, such as noteworthy anniversaries, memorable holidays or the children’s graduations. Although it may be difficult to completely disregard those memories while divorcing, it’s important to remain neutral and businesslike to ensure that your desired outcomes are achieved. Just because you and your spouse are older doesn’t mean he or she won’t try to gain more negotiating power.
Just remember, you’re not alone. A divorce attorney is well-equipped to handle these sensitive matters and will be by your side every step of the way to help you navigate through this difficult process.
For more information about divorcing during your senior years or your individual legal circumstances, contact the family law attorneys at Protokowicz & Rodier.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide about the subject matter. A licensed Maryland attorney should be sought about your specific circumstances.