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Things to know about late-life divorce

The end of any marriage can be a very emotional and taxing experience. However, older couples who are contemplating divorce can experience a myriad of unique and special challenges. Divorce rates among couples who are senior citizens are on the rise in the state of Texas and across the country. Those who are going through such a proceeding can stay secure and happy through their golden years by gaining an understanding of their options and the common issues that go along with divorce later in life.

A big asset to most families is the marital home, and separating couples often wonder if they should sell the home or retain this valuable asset. As with any home, there is always an emotional attachment. However, the costs of maintaining a home can quickly add up; throw in taxes, and it can become downright expensive to retain a home just for sentimental purposes. Retirement savings also become an issue when older couples separate. To avoid creating an unwanted taxable event by liquidating a 401k or IRA, a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) can be obtained in order to provide for the transfer of such assets with no tax consequences.

In late-life divorce, Social Security benefits can also become an issue, though eligibility varies for these benefits. Couples need to have at least 10 years of marriage under their belts to have the right to claim Social Security benefits on the work record of a spouse. However, this type of spousal Social Security benefits can't be collected until the couple has been divorced at least two years.

Senior citizen couples may have adult children. Disagreements could arise about continuing to pay things such as college tuition. Also, it is possible to have older children still living at home, so selling a home can become more difficult.

This is just a small sample of the unique challenges that senior citizen couples may face when deciding to end a marriage. For years, the perception was that older couples just do not separate. These days, however, divorce rates in this age demographic are continuing to climb. Difficult circumstances may arise when separating later in life. Those individuals in the state of Texas who are contemplating divorce could greatly benefit from seeking the services of an experienced family law attorney.

Source:, "The SAVINGS GAME: Divorce late in life causes unique financial complications", Anya Kamenetz, March 3, 2017

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