The phenomena of divorce over the age of 50, that we have noted before, does not appear to be slowing . With people living longer and more people looking for fulfillment , love and excitement throughout their lives and into the senior years, and with the increasing “empty –nest” syndrome, the gray divorce trend continues.
If you are contemplating or going through a later in life divorce, there are unique factors that you may confront, and that should be discussed with your attorney and other professional advisors. We outline some of those here below:
Gather a Team of Trusted Professional Advisors and Seek Their Support and Advice
For many going through what some call a “gray divorce” or “silver separation” this may be a second divorce. Thus, individuals may be inclined to remember the first experience and use that as a guidepost—even returning to the same attorney. That may not always be wise. The issues that you confronted in your thirties or forties were quite different from those now facing you. Later in life you may be looking toward retirement, or already be in active retirement. You and your spouse have accumulated different and usually greater assets; you may have second families; you may have different medical issues (either now or coming up); and you may have different needs for support and alimony. There are different implications for taxes, wealth preservation and transfer. In addition to needing the advice of an attorney experienced in elder divorce, you may need the services of an accountant/tax advisor, an estate planner and a financial advisor. Your attorney can take the lead in helping put this team together, or you may have professionals you have worked with before. However. if you and your spouse shared advisors, now there may be a conflict for one of you to use any of these professionals, or you may just wish to hire someone neutral.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Depending upon the assets that are to be divided, and numerous other factors, alimony may or may not be awarded in your case, but certainly it is something that must be considered. The laws of alimony differ in all jurisdictions. In most states the notion of alimony for life is an antiquated concept. Even in situations where the dependent spouse has little ability to return to work, or “catch up” financially, it is highly unlikely that she/he will receive a monthly payment for life. This does not mean, however, that there is no entitlement to alimony, or for the greater earner, the need to pay. Understanding rules surrounding the right to alimony, and how to structure the amount and duration of alimony is critical.
Maintaining Good Health Insurance
Having health insurance is essential as one ages and now a legal requirement for all. Spouses have a duty to provide for health insurance of the dependent spouse. While the parties are working, the insurance usually is provided through one or both employers; however, as retirement nears, and Medicare comes into play, there are other considerations. If your spouse was providing the health insurance and he/she retires, before Medicare eligibility, alternative provisions for health insurance (such as COBRA) must be in place. Medicare is not complete insurance, and participants need to pay for the gaps in coverage. Payment for Medicare Part B or Supplemental coverage should be taken in consideration in any alimony /marital settlement agreement.
Home Security is More than a Good Alarm System
Being realistic about where you will live after this divorce can be one of the most important decisions. Home security is important, but that does not mean staying put. Careful assessment should be given to the type of residence one will be living in, the costs, systems, maintenance, and unknowns. The attorney and advisors can play an important role in helping to decide who should get and or keep the marital home, and whether and how the home should be sold, and how the proceeds should be divided , invested, and used for the future.
Remarriage and Pre-Nuptial Agreements
It is not uncommon for people to re-marry in their sixties, seventies and eighties. It is never too late to find love, and some people love being married. For older people, it is not only wise, but prudent to have a pre-marital agreement. In additional to a good estate plan and will, the well-drafted pre-nup can help avoid probate, avoid taxes, and reduce tension within families, especially among the living children of the decedents.
Divorce later in life can be a time of dreams and challenges. Whatever it may present for you, it is important to not go through this alone. Gather your team and march forward with strength. If you wish a consult with a lawyer we are happy to speak with you.