Issues That Could Arise When Divorcing After 50

Divorcing at any age can be a stressful, complicated, and emotional process for any person. However, age can play a significant factor in a divorce, and the process can be even more challenging for divorcing spouses over 50.

The older a person is, the more likely they are to have children, assets, and savings that they want to hold onto in the divorce process. While the reasons for divorce, such as infidelity, financial pressures, and regrets about earlier life decisions, may be the same for younger and older spouses, there are still many issues specific to divorcing after 50 that a person may want to address with an attorney.

Issue of Retirement and Savings

The older a person is, the more likely they are to have worked a consistent job and contributed to a pension, 401(k), IRA, or other form of retirement funds with their partner. Outside of a family home, this is often the largest asset a person over 50 has. With age restrictions and penalties associated with early withdrawal, it is important for a person to fully understand the value of their various retirement accounts before deciding how to split marital property.

Once a person understands their retirement account value, they may need to pursue a separate court order called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to dictate how the retirement benefits will be divided. This ensures that a person is not penalized for how they divide the accounts. An attorney would best be able to help a person understand this process, particularly for those divorcing over 50.

Social Security

While social security benefits cannot be divided in a divorce court, many who look to divorce after 50 find that they could collect retirement benefits on their former spouse’s record after the marriage is dissolved. As some over 50 may be retired or nearing retirement, this additional income is a welcomed support in the shift from a two-person marital income to a one-person income.

If a marriage has lasted more than 10 years and a person is 62 or older, they could collect benefits from their former spouse’s social security without harming their ex-partner’s benefits. These benefits could be up to 50% of their former spouse’s benefits, and a person could choose between their own social security benefits or their former spouse’s if one is higher than the other. A person could also get up to 100% of a former spouse’s social security benefit if the former partner dies. However, one stipulation is that someone must remain unmarried while claiming an ex-spouse’s benefits.

Less Time to Bounce Back

Unlike someone getting a divorce earlier in life, an older spouse may not have the same level of flexibility to account for major life changes that they had previously. At 50, a person may be on a fixed salary, they may be retired, and they may have had adult children leave their care only to move into caring for their parents. This leaves less room for a person to bounce back after a divorce.

Working with an attorney could help a person understand their risks while also mitigating issues that could arise in the process.

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Sometimes, the best thing for a deteriorating relationship is to end it with separation or divorce, whether the couple has been together for four years or forty. The longer a couple is together, the more stress a person may feel when ending the relationship. However, many who pursue a divorce after 50 can find some relief from having a knowledgeable legal advocate by their side through the process.

If you or someone you know is considering a divorce later in life, it is important to work with legal counsel to ensure that everything is in order. At the Moskowitz Law Group, our experienced attorneys and legal staff could help you understand your unique situation and ensure your rights and desires are protected. Whether you are looking to start your divorce today, or if you would like to discuss your questions with a member of our team, we are ready to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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