Unique Issues Couples Face in Gray Divorce
Divorce statistics reveal that many couples are unhappy with their marriages these days. And, in fact, data gathered by Susan L. Brown, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University, indicate that older Americans are contributing to those statistics at surprising rates: men aged 65 and older experience divorce twice as often as they did in the 80s, and women are divorcing at three times their previous rates. In addition to the issues all couples who split must address, older couples have some distinct challenges that elude their younger counterparts.
Reasons Older Couples Divorce
In addition to the variety of factors that impact a couple’s decision to part ways, older individuals have some other unique situations that may factor in:
- Empty nesting leads couples to realize they don’t have much in common anymore;
- Social attitudes toward divorce have eased over time;
- Women’s increased earning power makes them less dependent on a spouse;
- With a few decades of life ahead, individuals realize they want something more fulfilling than what they’ve experienced thus far.
Terms of the Divorce
Financial considerations in divorce may have some immediate impacts for older divorcees. Maryland is known as an equitable distribution state. That means assets will be divided fairly, if not necessarily equally. Both monetary and non-monetary contributions to marriage and family will be weighed, so that a homemaker who never earned a salary will not be left high and dry. Other considerations include the length of the marriage, the reasons behind the divorce, and when and how assets were accrued. The ages, and mental and/or physical health of each individual must also be factored in to any settlement agreement. Circumstance may require one individual to pay for costs associated with the medical needs of a spouse, or reasonable housing costs. All of these issues require the courts to look at multiple possibilities regarding marital assets and debt.
- Alimony payments may be a lifetime award;
- Dividing retirement accounts and pension funds can be complex;
- Health insurance must be addressed;
- A lesser earning spouse may be entitled to Social Security benefits from the higher earning spouse if the marriage lasted 10 years or more, although those benefits will cease if the lesser earning spouse remarries.
- Stocks, bonds, and securities may be divided;
- Estate planning documents should be revised to reflect current wishes.
If children are still living in the family home, one spouse may be entitled to stay there with the children for as many as three years, keeping life as stable as possible for minors who are impacted by the divorce.
No divorce is without pain, but at the Law Office of Hasson D, Barnes, LLC, our experienced team will work to ensure you the smoothest possible transition to single life. Whether you’ve been married for a short time or for decades, we will develop a strategy unique to your personal circumstances. Contact us in Baltimore today for a confidential consultation.