Understanding Divorce in Your Senior Years

After spending most of their lives together, many wonder why older couples divorce. The truth is, however, divorce for older couples is happening in greater numbers and for many of the same reasons as younger couples. Although the same factors, including infidelity, financial pressures, regrets of earlier decisions, and desire for greater independence, play a role in all divorces, older couples face special circumstances that younger couples do not.

Financial Concerns For Divorces Later in Life

The longer couples live together, the more intertwined their lives are, particularly finances. For people in their 50s, 60s, or even older, divorce has an even greater impact on their financial security as the couple divides their assets. Older couples should keep the following in mind when thinking about divorce:

Retirement Money - One of the major issues with older age divorces is that any retirement funds are most likely going to be split 50-50. This can be a major setback later in life, especially if any kind of spousal support is mandated. Often times, splitting up funds leaves both spouses with less money than they need.

Social Security - Divorce courts do not have the legal ability to divide Social Security benefits, but that doesn't mean your benefits won't be affected. If a marriage lasted more than 10 years and the couple is older than 62, a former spouse has the right to collect Social Security benefits from their former spouse's benefits. Social Security is also considered income for purposes of spousal support.

Your House - In any divorce, giving up a longtime home may be difficult and many balk at the idea, especially women. The house is most likely one of the largest financial assets, meaning if one partner keeps it, the other must be compensated in some way, whether it's through less alimony or retirement money. While keeping a house may provide some measure of security, such as tax deductions or possible rental income, it's also important to think about the maintenance, taxes, mortgages, and other financial obligations a house incurs.

Alimony/Spousal Support - Nearly all long-term marriages will prompt a divorce court to award alimony to one of the partners if the other spouse continues to have income. Older couples can almost always expect alimony to be part of the divorce proceedings, but alimony can be modified upon retirement or other change in circumstances.

Emotional and Social Implications

While divorce can be burdensome financially, the emotional stress can be far more troubling. Older individuals face different challenges when divorcing and starting over may be far more difficult. Younger individuals often have larger social networks and may have little trouble rejoining the dating pool or obtaining employment than someone in their senior years.

Although an older couple's children may be grown, it does not mean divorce won't affect them. Children and even grandchildren could find it difficult to understand the divorce and may need emotional support.

Need Help? Consult with a Michigan Divorce Attorney

Divorce at any age is complicated, but if you are a senior couple thinking about divorce, it is important to fully understand the implications. When divorce is the only way either spouse will find happiness, an older couple should not be afraid to seek a dissolution of the marriage. However, your financial and emotional security after the divorce are also a factor. Speaking to an experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help. Contact the Law Office of Michael A. Robbins online or by calling 248-646-7980 to consult about the specifics of your case. Mr. Robbins serves the Tri-County area of Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb counties, as well as greater Michigan, and is considered one of the foremost authorities on elder and divorce law in Michigan.