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What Makes an Older Divorce Especially Challenging?

 Posted on October 08, 2020 in Divorce

DuPage County gray divorce attorneyIn this day and age, it is becoming more common for senior citizens to divorce, sometimes after decades of marriage. While the causes are numerous, what many do not take into account is that divorcing at an older age can have challenges that younger couples often do not experience. If an older couple is not adequately prepared for some of the particular questions they may confront, significant issues can quickly develop.

Pensions and Other Benefits

One major concern that is not especially pressing for most younger couples is how to divide a pension or Social Security funds. If a couple has been married for ten years or longer, and one or both are over the age of 62, spouses can draw benefits on each other’s work history. This can create complexities in a divorce.

Retirement savings, investments, and pensions are generally divided using Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which apportion a certain percentage of one spouse’s earned retirement benefits to the other spouse. While this is not uncommon, it can still cause issues, given that one spouse’s retirement money is essentially cut in half. Budgets and estate plans will likely need to be reworked. 

Social Security disability or retirement, meanwhile, is apportioned somewhat differently than private retirement funds. If you have not remarried, and your marriage lasted more than ten years, you are entitled to collect Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s work record if you would otherwise qualify for it, and if the benefit you would receive based on your work record would be less than that based on your spouse’s record. You may be entitled to both, depending on the terms of your divorce decree and any other documents you have executed, but either way, it can be difficult to adjust to what will almost certainly be a new standard of living. Private retirement funds are more likely to be counted as marital assets, while Social Security is more likely to be non-marital property, but this is not set in stone. 

Health Concerns and Estate Planning

Another common issue many older couples face in divorce is the reality of declining health and the associated ramifications. Health issues such as dementia could affect determinations for spousal support, as well as the couple’s estate plans. A spouse who becomes incapacitated may need additional support, as he or she may not be able to work or support himself or herself.

Older couples must also ensure that all estate planning instruments are up to date, including wills, trusts, and insurance policies. While many couples write wills leaving their estates to each other, Illinois law contains a provision that strips any gift or bequest to a former spouse after a judgment of divorce. As such, it is important to update your will after your divorce to avoid unpleasant surprises in the future.  

Enlist the Help of a DuPage County Gray Divorce Lawyer

Divorce later in life is becoming more and more common and being prepared for this possibility is critical. If you have questions or need assistance, consider consulting an experienced divorce lawyer. The skilled Wheaton divorce over age 50 attorneys at Goostree Law Group have the knowledge and resources to help you throughout the divorce process and beyond. Call 630-634-5050 to schedule a free consultation today.





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