October 24, 2013

Late-life Divorce on the Rise

The emerging trend of “gray divorce” and what to consider

According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, divorce rates for couples over 50 have doubled between 1990 and 2009. Late-life divorce, also known as “gray divorce”, is becoming more common and creating uncertainty about future implications. Financial concerns are usually at the forefront of these considerations; division of assets and liabilities can be complex in these cases.

The evolution of this emerging trend is thought to share the same reasoning as divorce at any other age; however, the impact of longevity is allowing older couples to start over. Some experts in the subject area suspect that the stresses of later life can intensify already existing problems. Years of raising a family and reaching career goals can easily hide underlying relationship problems. With another 20 or so years ahead, a couple in their sixties can pursue a happier relationship and lifestyle.

For those considering divorce that fit this cohort, there are of course many factors to consider. As opposed to couples concerned with custody and child support, late-life divorce presents other challenges and decisions that will concern the sustainability of each individual. Apart from the support and care giving of a spouse during the elderly years, the financial uncertainty can be intimidating.

In retirement, many do not work and enjoy the benefits of their retirement plans, savings and social security. When a marriage has lasted twenty or thirty years, the combined assets and financial status of an individual is hard to decipher. Additionally, hidden assets or family businesses can be difficult to value.

It is advisable to seek an experienced divorce attorney to help evaluate this information thoroughly. Retirement plans, pension, 401K and social security benefits have much greater value to couples divorcing at this age and are key factors during equitable distribution. Because many will no longer work, it is all the more important to have a “gray divorce” handled by an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney will be able to explain how your finances will be affected, including how it will affect your Social Security benefits.  Support and alimony may be other factors to contend with. The party in need of support is entitled to much more when a marriage has lasted multiple decades.

To speak with attorney about divorce, call our office to schedule a consultation, at (215) 942-2100. It is unhealthy to be unhappy at any age, and everyone deserves a chance to improve their quality of life. Allow an experienced divorce attorney help you through your late-life divorce and begin a new chapter.