Divorce at any age can be financially and emotionally devastating. Divorce as a senior has special considerations because for most people they are at the end or near the end of their work life. Child support and custody are most likely not issues because the children are grown, retirement, pension, and alimony however become more important.

What happens to Social Security retirement?

If you and your spouse are both ages 60 or over and expect to collect social security soon, divorcing as a senior citizen does not affect your rights to collect retirement benefits on your soon to be ex-spouse’s work record. If your marriage lasted for 10 years or more, you can collect retirement benefits on the ex-spouse’s work record, even if he/she is remarried as long as the ex-spouse has the higher paying work record.

Pension benefits are equally important for seniors contemplating divorce. Do both spouses have pension benefits and did they earn equally during their work life? If the amount of benefits was dependent upon employee contributions—was one spouse a saver and the other a spendthrift? These are only a few of the issues divorcing seniors must consider.

Other property issues could involve real estate the parties own. What if there is more than one residence? Has one spouse received or expected to receive an inheritance from which they had been enjoying the income during the marriage? Is there an investment portfolio? Alimony is also an issue for divorcing seniors. A senior who has been married for the required number of years is entitled to permanent alimony if they do not have enough resources after property division to support themselves.

Divorce to protect assets…

There is another side to divorce for senior citizens. Health issues can be a factor in considering divorce. If one spouse is suffering a debilitating illness that may require long-term care, this care could use up all of the couples’ assets. Medicare does not cover long-term care. Seniors divorce in some instances not because the marriage is broken but to preserve assets for the other spouse. Assets of the ill spouse can be reduced through divorce, thereby making the ill spouse eligible for Medicaid after spending down the assets.

Seniors who are divorcing have considerations that younger divorcing couples do not. Good legal advice in this area is essential.


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