Divorce at any age is difficult, both emotionally and financially and a late-life divorce can be even more devastating. As the population in general ages, we are seeing more divorces occurring in couples who have been together for decades. These “gray divorces” pose additional issues that are often not present in a divorce between younger couples.
A Late-Life Divorce: Going From We To Me
Many couples over fifty may be on their second or third marriage. Others have been together for thirty years or more. They have bought a home, raised a family and prepared for retirement. Determining who gets what is more complicated than I’ll take the house and you can have the car. The longer the couple has functioned as one unit, the more difficult the financial aspects, in particular, can be to sort out.
Determining who gets your home isn’t simply a matter of handing over the deed. The person who keeps the house will need to take into account the taxes they need to pay every year, the cost of any repairs and if the home is to become rental property, the income that may be generated from it over the coming years. This can all have an impact on alimony payments, the division of other property and even how retirement benefits are divided. If you sell your home, living expenses change regarding needing to pay rent and utilities.
Retirement benefits are even more complicated to divide in a late-life divorce. You may have contributed equally to any retirement plans or one partner may have been the sole contributor. In either case, the benefits will need to be divided so that each person has something to live on during those years. Division of retirement benefits will depend greatly on other financial factors. How will the divorce affect social security payments if the original receiver dies?
Health And Life Insurance
Aging couples often have to deal with decreasing health in addition to other issues. Who is responsible for the health insurance, and how much, becomes a factor. Life insurance policies often have each half of the couple listed as the beneficiary. It will need to be determined whether this is to remain the same or if the beneficiary information will change. It is possible that if either party remarries, financial information will differ and you need to take this into account.
Wills need to be re-examined in light of the changing relationship. As a couple, you may have written wills to reflect your partner as the sole recipient of your property and other assets. You may have left that partner in charge of carrying out your final wishes. Now, you will both have to determine if this arrangement is actually the best for both of you. Often, it will be better to revise each of your wills to reflect the changed status of your marriage.
Later-life divorces have so many financial nuances that going it alone can make it confusing and make an already chaotic time overwhelming. Seeking the aid of an experienced divorce lawyer who has knowledge of all the special financial considerations unique to late-life divorce. Seeking assistance can make a major difference between being able to survive this split with enough to get through the remaining years of your life or being destitute and feeling like you are completely starting over financially. In the end, you have enough to deal with emotionally that you don’t need the stress of trying to untangle the financial aspects alone.