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Divorcing Seniors: Tips to Remember

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A recent Bowling Green State University study revealed that the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50 has nearly doubled since 1990. Of this generation of divorcees, approximately 48% were divorcing their first spouse. All divorce proceedings are tied to unique problems, however seniors that elect to end their marriage, particularly from their long- time spouse have some specific issues to keep an eye out for. U.S News and World Report recently published an article on this new trend and identified seven specific issues relevant to divorcing seniors that might be important for you or your loved one.

 

First, long- term marriages almost guarantee alimony agreements. While New York courts will often provide alimony for a younger, divorcing couple just long enough for the lower- income spouse to make ends meet, courts tend to favor lifetime payouts for older couples. Essentially, this means that if a couple has been married for 25+ years and one spouse has come to depend on the other’s income for basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, etc., the court will often rule that the higher earning spouse is responsible to pay alimony.

 

Second, retirement funds. Typically, when a couple has been married for the duration of one spouse’s employment, retirement and pension funds are considered marital property. Therefore, this “income” will often be divided.

 

Another issue the article details is the marital residence. If one spouse opts to remain living in the martial home, courts will often view this as property taken from the marriage. This decision might result in lower alimony if the higher earning spouse moved out of the marital home or a change in property division.

 

Fourth, while older, divorcing couples might feel relieved that matters such as child custody and support aren’t relevant, they might be surprised to learn that divorce affects all family members, including adult children. More specifically, US News and World Report notes the recent trend of parents continuing to financially support their adult children. Unlike traditional child support, this financial assistance cannot be written into a divorce agreement, as it technically calls for support to a third party that is not a party to the divorce agreement.

 

The final points of the article might seem to be common sense to all parties involved in a divorce action, not just those over the age of 50. They include: keep all conversations neutral, refrain from dating until your divorce is finalized and finally, enter into a prenuptial agreement before re- marrying.

 

If you or a loved one are considering a divorce and have specific questions regarding your unique circumstances, please call the Law Offices of Jay D. Raxenberg today at (516) 491-0565 or toll free at (888) 543-4867.

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