Four ways divorce affects older couples

The rate of divorce is rising among couples aged 50 and older. These couples face a variety of challenges that younger divorced couples may not face.

The rate of divorce is rising among couples aged 50 and older. These couples face a variety of challenges that younger divorced couples may not face.

Most Texas couples plan to stay together forever when they tie the knot. Ideally, marriage should be a mutually beneficial arrangement that lasts a lifetime. Unfortunately, not all marriages can claim a happy ending. Many unions screech to a halt despite years of commitment and compromise.

A study conducted by Bowling Green State University sociologists showed that one out of every four divorces during the year 2010 involved an older couple. These statistics reveal that is becoming more unusual to see couples make it to their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

The decision to divorce a spouse after many years of marriage is a difficult one and comes with many challenges. Divorce is hard for couples of any age, but there are several ways that divorce particularly affects older couples. Retirement benefits, property division health concerns, and Social Security are four factors older couples must consider when filing for divorce.

Retirement benefits

Couples who divorce after the age of 50 often face different financial challenges than younger couples, and they may wonder about their financial rights. Many find themselves concerned with what will happen to their retirement benefits when they are no longer married. According to U.S. News & World Report, retirement money may go entirely to one spouse or it may be divided between them. This depends on a variety of factors, including whether the retirement account was set up prior to the wedding or after.

According to the Texas Family Code, retirement contributions made during marriage are considered marital property and are subject to division between the spouses. Ultimately, the court determines how much of the retirement benefits will be awarded to each party. A retirement plan that was set up for one lifestyle may now have to support two. This might require people to put off retirement or downsize some of their retirement plans.

Estate planning

Older couples must also figure out what will happen with their estate after divorce.

Texas law states that the court will decide how property and marital assets shall be divided in the divorce. This decision is based upon different factors, as spelled out in Title 1, Subtitle C, Chapter 7 of the Texas Family Code. It is essential to change estate plans and remove the name of an ex-spouse on instruments such as wills, powers of attorney, and life insurance policies after the divorce is final.

Health concerns

Thanks to modern medicine, people are now more likely to experience long, healthy lives. However, health concerns are still a big issue for many people over the age of 50. If divorce leaves one partner financially unstable, it may be challenging to decide how future health costs will be met. Who will be primarily responsible for taking care of older divorcees if they face illness or disease? For many older divorced couples, a child is the most natural person to step up and offer financial support.

Social Security

If a couple has been married for more than 10 years at the time of divorce and one of the spouses was a disproportionately higher wage earner than the other, at the age of 62, the lower wage earner has the option of receiving either his or her own monthly Social Security benefit or one-half of the higher wage earner's benefit. This is especially important to those stay-at-home parents who did not work outside of a long marriage and did not build their own social security accounts.

Although older couples face unique challenges during divorce, there are resources available to assist them. Texas family law attorneys may be able to help older couples by advocating for fair division of money and property.

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