Divorce Over Age 50
If you are over 50 and divorcing, you face an entirely different set of challenges than a younger couple who may have been together a shorter period of time. As the length of your marriage increases, both assets and debts increase with it, and because of this, decoupling gets a bit more complicated.
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Identify Your Premarital Assets
Identifying pre-marital assets is simple when you’ve only been married five years, but trickier in a 20, 30, or 40 year marriage. You may not even remember what assets are premarital; and if you do, you may not be able to prove they are, if your spouse chooses to disagree with your assertions. Further, pre-marital assets are often mingled with marital assets. An example would be if a spouse paid the down-payment of a home you purchased during the marriage with money from his premarital savings account. Is that still his money, or is it now part of your shared asset?
A young couple often finds it easy to complete their property affidavit, which is required in Ohio with every divorce filing, however an older couple, with a greater amount of assets, may find identifying all their assets trickier. Further, valuations may need to be obtained regarding more complex assets, such as:
- Executive compensation packages
- Ownership stakes
- Stock options
- Ownership stakes
- Rental properties
- Travel perks
- Car allowances
- Credit card miles
Often, one spouse doesn’t even know what marital assets they have. It is often a good idea to gather as much documentation and paperwork to be certain you are able to identify all assets you and your spouse own. There are times a spouse will intentionally secret assets and not disclose them.
If is more likely an older adult may have lost their parents resulting in an inheritance. Inheritances are not martial property, but again, things can quickly get complicated when you make a $100,000.00 lump sum payment toward the principal of your marital home.
The Marital Estate
The value of your home has likely grown too. This is great if you want to sell it, yet terrifying if one spouse wants to keep the home, only to realize they cannot because they are unable to pay the marital portion of the equity out to the other spouse.
An older couple also thinks more about retirement than younger folks. If you and your spouse have been married for more than ten years, even after divorce, you may be able to take advantage of the other’s Social Security history. If your individual Social Security history is less than half of your spouse, then you can opt to receive a benefit equal to half the amount of your spouse. This does not affect your spouse’s benefits; it simply increases yours. This is true even if the spouse remarries.
At this time of life, your retirement investments are hopefully growing. Often only one party may have a retirement account. While only one person’s name is on the individual retirement accounts, whether they are 401(k)’s , pensions, of IRA’s, they are marital assets to be divided. Dividing retirement accounts require additional documents, including a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or a Division of Property Order (DOPO). Often, the retirement account can contain a premarital portion as well as a marital portion. This gets tricky when dealing with pensions and the services of a valuation expert become necessary.
What if one spouse never worked and the other was always the bread-winner? What does the spouse who stayed home with the children do? How do they return to the work force when they haven’t worked for 30 years? Will you be able to obtain spousal support, otherwise known by some as alimony? Do you need it; does the other spouse have the ability to pay it? How close are you to retirement? The Court will look to a number of factors to make these determinations. Please see the section on spousal support, on this site, to give you an idea what the court will view as relevant in making the determination whether to award support or not.
You may be afraid because, let’s face it, most of us don’t plan to get divorced at this age. You have survived raising children, how can you not make your marriage work? You have a shared history together and the life you have now is all you know. You are scared. However, for whatever reason, this decision has been made by you, your spouse, or both of you; and it must be accepted.
They say one needs to experience a whole lot of pain and resistance before we accept, and continue. This will be difficult; and I am sorry if you are experiencing confusion and pain; however I am here to help provide you with the direction and legal advice necessary to get you to the other side whole. My role is to protect you.