Older adults in a marriage are just as susceptible to factors that may compel them to want to get a divorce as younger individuals are. In fact, while divorce rates among younger demographics have fallen in recent years, the divorce rate among couples 50 and over has doubled since the 1990s, according to Pew Research.
While dissolving a marriage may always be an option that’s in the couple’s best interests, there are a number of senior divorce issues to be aware of. Issues somewhat unique to divorce and senior citizens typically include:
- The division of a larger pool of assets and more jointly owned assets
- The division of retirement benefits, including 401(k), pension, and/or military retirement benefits
- Changes to beneficiary status for life insurance, trusts, and similar benefit-based programs
- Eligibility and recipient status for Social Security, Medicare, and similar programs
- A higher likelihood of one of the spouses needing spousal support (alimony)
- The possibility that one of the spouses may lack legal capacity, requiring a guardian or guardian ad litem
- A need for setting aside funds and other resources for aspects like grandchildren, businesses, property management, and similar concerns
New Mexico Financial & Family Law is ready to assist you with your legal strategies and understanding at any age. Our divorce lawyers for seniors can help you examine all relevant issues and form a strategy for coming to an agreement on your divorce decree. Elderly divorce issues can, unfortunately, become more contentious given the long history of the marriage and the likely larger size of all assets and benefits of concern, so we are prepared for both collaborative divorce or divorce litigation based on your unique circumstances.
Take the first step to transitioning to your newer, more free life by speaking with a senior citizen divorce attorney today. Call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online to schedule your confidential, risk-free, no-obligation case review now.
Be Prepared for More Complicated Division of Assets When It Comes to Divorce and Senior Citizens
Generally speaking, when a couple has spent more years together married, they are more likely to have a larger pool of assets that could be considered joint property. Homes, cars, jewelry, art, appliances, electronics, and even pets can all become contentious points during the division of assets portion of the divorce decree.
There may also be assets where the line of sole ownership vs. marital property is muddy. Would a business count as joint property if it was only partially owned by one of the spouses? Would a vehicle or second home or investment account count as communal property when they are listed under just one spouse’s name? New Mexico and most other states attempt to broadly include as much property obtained during the course of the marriage as possible during eligibility, but specifically worded agreements or joint ownership can complicate these matters greatly.
New Mexico Financial & Family Law can assist you with inventorying all known assets and determining which may be eligible for division, which will not, and which fall into a gray area of uncertainty. Often, coming to a final divorce agreement depends upon the ability of one spouse to make concessions or determine a fair arrangement, which requires both spouses to know what is being considered, know where their priorities lie and know how to negotiate towards a mutual agreement.
Insurance and Retirement During an Older Divorce
Many issues pertaining to divorce get swept under the rug when the couple is younger or they have not been married for more than a few years. However, for older couples getting divorced, matters like retirement accounts and survivor benefits have a lot more gravity!
Most investment accounts, stock options, and retirement plans count as divisible property when looking at the contributions made and benefits earned during the period of marriage. Social Security benefits are not divisible property, technically, but a spouse can draw on the other spouse’s Social Security if the marriage lasted longer than 10 years and the spouse wishing to draw is at least 62 years old.
Note that you can remain the beneficiary of your spouse’s life insurance policy, survivor benefits, and transfer-upon-death holdings or accounts at their discretion.
Assets divided during the marriage may also count as taxable income, so it is vital to consider the financial consequences of your division as well as the legal aspects.
As for health insurance, you may be eligible to remain on your spouse’s private plan, Medicare plan, or military (Tricare) plan if you’re over 65 and have not remarried. Discuss these matters with your senior divorce lawyer to learn the specifics of what options are and are not available to you.
Spousal Support (Alimony) After a Senior Divorce
One significant difference in senior divorces is that one spouse may be more likely to be entirely dependent on the other for income and support. In these situations, the court system is more likely to grant alimony so that the dependent spouse is suddenly left with no means to care for themselves or afford basic necessities. The spousal support award may also be indefinite, or at least last until the awarded spouse’s remarriage.
Senior divorce requires careful consideration of your projected costs of living, contingency plans for emergencies, and other predicted costs throughout your likely remaining lifespan. Do not overlook the role alimony might play in your future, whether you are requesting it or likely to pay it. Discuss the matters with your senior divorce attorney to help prepare for your new future.
Strategize for Your Senior Divorce, And Consider Estate Planning at the Same Time
New Mexico Financial & Family Law has decades of collective experience representing clients in matters of divorce, spousal support, division of assets, and also estate planning.
Divorcing couples should consider the effects of the divorce on their current estate plan and revise it according to their new circumstances. You will likely need to draft a new will and change listed beneficiaries, at the very least. You may also wish to establish a trust as part of the terms of the divorce, which can go towards a specific purpose, like paying for emergency healthcare, covering grandchildren’s college costs, or setting aside money for funeral arrangements.
Look into all relevant matters pertaining to your senior divorce when you start working with one of our experienced attorneys. We promise to listen closely to your concerns and leave no stone unturned when reviewing important divorce decisions.
Start the conversation when you call (505) 503-1637 or contact us online to schedule your no-obligation consultation today.