While the overall divorce rate in the U.S. is declining, divorces among couples over 50 years old are rising. The divorce rate among older couples has doubled since 1990. Those are startling statistics and mean seniors need to understand the factors involved in “gray divorces.”
Protect Yourself During a Divorce
The conditions surrounding divorce change as people age, which means the strategies for protecting your assets at an older age are different than for younger couples. For example, your home is more likely to be paid off when you’re older. Many couples have more than one home, which further complicates the situation.
Retirement plans also come into play, as settlements routinely split the proceeds of those accounts. A divorce attorney in Cullman will review your accounts to determine what issues might threaten those assets.
Another consideration few people think about is that seniors don’t have time to replenish their retirement funds. Most seniors no longer work, which means their financial well-being is at risk during a gray divorce. If you’re still working, your retirement may be delayed to ensure the available funds will provide the standard of living you expect.
Why Seniors are Now Divorcing More Frequently
Society is evolving, and divorce trends among senior couples are no exception to that rule. While graying couples tended to stay together in the past, modern conditions removed many constraints that formerly made older couples less likely to go their own ways. Here are a few reasons we see higher divorce rates among older couples.
• More women are now financially secure. In the past, fewer women worked and had their own funds. That changed during the ‘60s and ‘70s when more women began working full-time and generating higher incomes. That means many women don’t feel forced to stay with their spouses for financial security.
• Couples are growing apart. Today, everyone is encouraged to explore new interests, and graying couples are taking that advice to heart. In addition, once they reach retirement age, many seniors discover they’ve been growing apart slowly over the years and have little in common now.
• Partners are exploring different lifestyles. In many instances, one or both partners want new life experiences. That’s fine if both partners share a common life perspective, but that doesn’t always happen. One partner may see a move to Palm Beach as a new goal, while the other favors living in a small Vermont town. Those lifestyles don’t blend well.
Of course, there are many other reasons for gray divorces, and each couple’s reasons may vary dramatically from those listed here. If your marriage is failing, now is the time to discuss the repercussions of a divorce with our attorneys.
What Factors Influence Gray Divorce Settlements?
Any divorce can become complicated, and the more assets a couple has, the more difficult reaching a decision might be. After years of commingling assets, dividing those assets is always a problem. Here are a few factors routinely considered during a gray divorce.
• Any age disparity. When one partner is considerably younger than the other, that age difference will generally impact a divorce settlement.
• The earning capacity of each spouse. This is, to a degree, related to the age disparity factor, as younger individuals can attain higher earnings than an older partner that is no longer working.
• Health issues. If one of the spouses is facing major health problems, their medical condition will almost certainly impact the settlement.
• Each spouse’s retirement account. When only one spouse has a retirement account, settlements may get quite messy. However, when both partners have well-funded retirement accounts, some decisions will be easier.
• Dividing investments. When a couple shares investments, deciding how to split those investments will pose problems. Disposing of an investment might not be prudent, so how will the asset be divided?
Dividing assets equitably is always problematic, which is why couples are always encouraged to seek legal help early in the divorce process. Attorneys are well-versed in divorce laws and the needs of older couples facing an uncertain future, which means couples working with attorneys are more likely to reach equitable solutions during their divorce.
Don’t Forget About the Kids
Even though gray divorces rarely involve custody or child support issues, older couples must still consider their children during their divorce. For example, couples need new wills reflecting their new single status. Your attorney will recommend establishing a new will, so ask questions during the process to ensure a new will is in place immediately following the finalization of a divorce.
Review Your Insurance Needs
Another issue that’s easy to ignore is insurance. Both health and life insurance needs are likely to change following a divorce, so take the time to discuss any policy changes during the process. Beneficiaries will almost certainly change, and cash values will always be considered during settlement negotiations.
Get Legal Advice During and After a Divorce
Most people believe they’re familiar with relevant divorce laws, but few really are. There are too many nuances involved that only an attorney recognizes and is trained to deal with. In addition, splitting up may not be as straightforward as couples expect. While a total split has advantages, some couples may find a legal separation is a better solution.
An attorney will review the couple’s circumstances and recommend potential solutions to consider. Of course, both spouses must agree to a solution, which might not be possible.However, the well-being of both spouses is always important, and attorneys will take the steps required to attain that objective.
Remember that you may need legal advice well after a divorce to deal with new or evolving conditions. The relationship you build with an attorney during a divorce won’t end when the divorce is final. The attorney will be there when you need advice in the future.
Taking the First Step Toward Your New Life
The first step in any divorce should be contacting an attorney for advice. The attorney will schedule an appointment to discuss a client’s circumstances and ultimate goals. Once the attorney reviews the available options, they’ll discuss all possible solutions with the client. Divorces are never easy, but they provide spouses with a legal way to separate and get on with their lives.