Did you know that the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has doubled in recent years? And that it has more than doubled for those over the age of 65? Surprisingly, more than half of those divorces were between couples who had been married for more than 20 years. Divorce among these groups has become so common that the term “gray divorce” has been coined to describe them. More than a flashy name, gray divorce has unique legal issues and consequences that require a skilled divorce lawyer to handle.
Retirement distribution is one of the many financial issues that comes up in a gray divorce. Retirement earnings are considered marital property and will be divided as such. This includes retirement accounts like pension plans, 401(k) plans and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). A carefully crafted qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is essential to dividing and protecting these assets and should be drafted by an experienced divorce attorney.
Dividing debt in a divorce can be as or more important than dividing assets. Thoroughly checking all debt in either spouse’s and both spouses’ names is very important so that neither party is surprised later on. It is especially important to do this investigation before negotiation takes place. Your attorney can help you locate the debts that will be affected by your divorce and make sure there is a fair division and that all known debts are listed.
Divorce can sometimes sever the healthcare coverage of one spouse, which has important implications for older people with increasing healthcare needs. Couples in this situation might consider a “legal separation” instead of a divorce if they have special circumstances like long-term care needs that necessitate remaining on their current insurance. A family law attorney can explain to you the different between divorce and legal separation so you can decide what is best for you.
Seniors relying on Social Security income in their retirement years will want to know the implications of divorce on that income. The good news is that if you were married for more than 10 years and the your former spouse is over 62, then you are entitled to received social security spousal benefits as long as you remain unmarried.
If you would like to speak with a family law attorney about your specific case, call Leslie Copeland to schedule a free consultation.