Although it was once rare to go through a divorce once you made it to your “Golden Years,” senior divorces are becoming more common. Divorce can be particularly difficult for those who are already in their retirement years and have been married for decades. Although the basics of any divorce are the same, seniors frequently face unique issues throughout the divorce process. Dallas senior divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd discusses divorce during your “Golden Years.”
The Rise in Senior Divorces
Until relatively recently, divorce was something to be avoided at all costs regardless of your age. Even couples who were miserable often stayed together for life. The idea of going through a divorce after making it through decades in an unhappy marriage just seemed pointless, particularly considering the idea of finding love and happiness with someone new once you reached your “Golden Years” was thought of as impossible. Today, both societal views on divorce and the hope of finding love at any age have prompted more and more seniors to make the decision to go through the divorce process.
A 2017 Pew Research Center study found that the divorce rate for people over 50 has roughly doubled since the 1990s. According to experts, several factors contribute to the increased divorce rate among seniors, starting with a significantly increased life expectancy. Baby Boomers can expect to live into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s, leaving them plenty of time to find love again if they decide to divorce when they are near retirement age. Another important factor that has led to an increase in senior divorces is the fact that women tend to be more financially stable now, making divorce a less ominous prospect.
What Is Different about a Senior Divorce?
From a legal standpoint, the divorce process is the same for all couples; however, experts tell us that seniors tend to experience some important differences when they go through a divorce, such as:
- Emotional Impact – The emotional impact of divorce is often greater when you are a senior than it is when you are younger. Adjusting to being alone after decades of marriage can be challenging, even if you initiated the divorce. Family support, counseling, and/or a support group can help you make the adjustment successfully.
- Health Insurance – Although it is frequently an issue in any divorce, health insurance and long-term care planning often take on a heightened importance in a senior divorce because both play a more vital role in the lives of seniors. Ensuring that a spouse continues to cover your health insurance premiums, for example, may be more valuable than getting assets in the divorce.
- Division of Assets and Debts – If you are near or in your retirement years, your retirement plan will play an increased role in your divorce. Even though women are generally more financially stable than they were several decades ago, women remain likely to suffer financially post-divorce while a man will come out ahead financially. Finding any job as an older worker is challenging. Finding a job that will pay enough to live comfortably post-divorce may be impossible. Consequently, spousal support may play a much more important role in the divorce negotiations if you are going through a senior divorce.
- Adult Children – Your children may be grown adults when you go through a divorce, but they may still be an issue in your divorce. You will still need to decide how assets will be passed down to them during or after the divorce.
- Estate Plan — If you have been married for several decades, your spouse is likely the primary beneficiary in your Will as well as for all financial accounts. He/she is also probably your Executor and possibly the Trustee of a trust as well as your Agent for an advance directive if you have one in place. Given that the terms of your estate plan become more relevant as you age, you will need to review and revise all these documents as well as your overall estate plan if you get divorced during your Golden Year.
Contact a Dallas Senior Divorce Attorney
If you have additional questions or concerns about divorce during your Golden Years in Texas, contact experienced Dallas senior divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.