Splitting After Sixty

Divorce after 60

A ‘legal divorce’ was unheard of among people over sixty just one generation ago. Most people of that age obtained an “Irish divorce” if anything. Couples with marital issues remained married but lived separate lives. Often they even lived in different households. Divorce wasn’t as socially acceptable, and many wives remained financially dependent on their spouses.

Times change and now almost 70% of Americans believe divorce is acceptable. It shouldn’t be surprising that the divorce rate among couples older than fifty doubled since 1990. The late-in-life divorces or ‘grey divorces’ involve issues and disputes different from those met by younger couples. How does a couple best manage these issues?

Child Custody

Couples over fifty not often have minor children, but there can still be child custody issues to resolve.

Adult children don’t always deal well with when their parent’s divorce. Younger children often heal quicker after experiencing emotional trauma while older people find it harder to bounce back. Older children also carry a lifetime of family memories, and many just recall the good things which happened. Older children tend to be less concerned about an inheritance.

Because of all this, older children sometimes show anger by withholding grandchildren visitation — especially if the couples’ children ‘blame’ one of their parents for the divorce.

To resolve this, the grandparents should establish contact which is in the best interests of the grand children. An experienced divorce attorney can help families work through this potential minefield.

Property Division

While young couples usually have no home equity and small retirement funds, older couples find the opposite is true.

Selling the house is frequently not an option for financial or emotional reasons. If one party chooses to keep the home, the court may divide the equity and give the now-houseless party a client, so if the house is eventually sold, the lien holder gets their share of the equity.

Any property obtained during the marriage is considered community property. Retirement accounts often fall under community property. Federal law permits the non-owner to elect a lump sum payout of any retirement accounts, retain an interest in the existing account or move the balance into a new tax-deferred account.

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