Spouses divorce later in life for the same reasons that many younger couples do: infidelity, financial reasons, regrets, fighting, or perhaps they waited until after their children left the home. Regardless of the reason, couples that split after they turn 50 years old have unique age-related issues that must be discussed in a divorce case. This is particularly true when considering the financial impact of divorce because there is much less time to recover than getting a divorce at a younger age.
Dividing Assets in Late Divorce
Dividing the assets of a long marriage is often a complicated process, and adding to it is the realization that each spouse needs enough to live comfortably as a senior. While most people look to the fair market value of each asset to determine an equitable split, some assets are more important than others and can pay dividends later on.
Keeping the home in divorce after 50 can provide many benefits later on in life. For example, real estate property exemptions and tax breaks trigger around retirement age. At 62 years old, you can qualify for a reverse mortgage if you own your home, which in turn can help support you in retirement. In addition, a primary residence does not typically count against you when applying for public benefits such as Medicaid.
Splitting retirement plan assets is a messy process that is wrought with rules, regulations, and tiny details that must be given attention. Typically, a separate court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) specifies the division of retirement benefits. It is important to discuss with your attorney when you can receive distributions, tax penalties if you still qualify for survivor’s benefits, whether any loans were taken out against your retirement funds if you are entitled to any contributions, and whether any military benefits still apply after the divorce.
The family court cannot split up Social Security benefits, but the rules regarding these benefits after a divorce are very important. If your marriage lasted more than 10 years and you are 62 years old or older, you are allowed to collect benefits on your former spouse’s record without reducing their benefits after the divorce. You can be eligible to draw up to 50 percent of the benefits, you can switch between you and your former spouse’s record, and once you have been divorced for two years other provisions apply.
If your former spouse dies, you may still be eligible to collect survivor’s benefits through Social Security after you have divorced. You can collect if the marriage lasted 10 years, you are over the age of 60, and you are not entitled to benefits that are equal or greater than your deceased former spouse.
In addition, while these benefits cannot be divided, case law provides that it can be considered as a factor for the court to consider with regard to an equitable distribution of assets and liabilities. Furthermore, it can also be considered regarding the need or ability to pay spousal support.
Call Us Today for Help with Your Divorce Case
If you or a loved one is considering a late-in-life divorce in the Fort Lauderdale area, you need an experienced family law attorney to help you work through all of the complicated financial issues that come with it. At Stok Kon + Braverman our office is here to help. Call or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.