Divorce rates have flattened out or gone down in most age groups. However, couples over the age of 50 are the exception – in the 1990s, 1 in 10 couples in this age group filed for divorce, but now it is 1 in 4 with experts predicting it will become increasingly common. Known as the “grey divorce”, this phenomenon involves couples who raised a family, grew apart over the years or have different goals for how to spend their final years, whether it is starting a business, traveling more, relaxing or maintaining the current course.
Long marriages can present a range of challenges for couples who divorce. The hardest part may be explaining it to the adult children and grandchildren, but there are other complex issues to resolve.
Five challenges to consider
According to retirement experts, there are specific issues for those in this age group:
1. Dividing retirement benefits
Many spend their adult lives saving for retirement or paying into a pension, which needs to be divided because these are marital assets. Generally, the amount accrued during the marriage is split equally.
2. Division of assets
While the spouse who earned the majority of the income may grumble, marital assets will likely make up a majority of their estate unless there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. Moreover, it can be difficult to differentiate between marital and premarital property after many years of marriage, and to determine a clear-cut value of each since the marriage has existed for so long.
Long-term married couples usually are on a single health insurance policy. The spouse who is not the source for the coverage will be removed from the policy once the divorce is final. This can be a significant concern for those who are over 50. An ex-spouse can also be removed from the life insurance policy’s list of beneficiaries.
4. Issues adult children face
Many adult children will be busy raising their own families, and suddenly they are thrust into a situation where their parents file for divorce. One parent may feel that they have no place to go and wish to be taken in by one of the children, or count on them for financial support. There may also be circumstances where a parent reveals the bad behavior over the years of the other spouse.
5. Not enough to go around
A fact in any divorce is that it divides up assets under the community property laws of Texas. Retired couples dividing assets may be restricted to a fixed income. For some, this will mean they will have much less money than they planned for on having before they realized that a divorce was in the future.
Legal guidance often more necessary
Complex cases such as these often require the help of an experienced Board-Certified Family Law expert who works in Collin County, Dallas County, Denton County, or elsewhere in Texas. Such a professional can help ensure that a client’s individual and marital rights are protected under the law.