Over the decades, different trends are noted in divorces. Most recently, what is seen is that older people are getting divorced. In people from the ages of 54 through 64, the rate of divorce has actually quadrupled. This kind of divorce is referred to as a gray divorce. There is now more social acceptance amongst older Americans. Today, 69% of people older than 54 believe that divorce is morally acceptable, compared to just 45% in 2001.
You also see a larger single population, socially, in this age group. Currently, 39% of the people on Match.com are 55 or older and two out of three gray divorces are initiated by women. It’s almost the complete reverse in younger Americans.
Are There New Trends In Divorces Since We Entered The New Millennium?
Not so long ago, marriages that made it past raising their children survived. That’s changed. Now, one out of four people getting divorced are over 50. They get done raising their children and they file for divorce.
There are problems that are unique and complex to divorcing at this age. One of the biggest problems is you don’t have time to rebound and retirement is fast approaching. When you divorce, you usually split the house in half, so whereas you had $100,000 before, you now have $50,000. It’s a lot more expensive to support two households than it is to support one. There are other issues about healthcare and insurance, the division of retirement assets, and estate planning. It’s important, if you are in this age group, that you look at these complexities and how they fit into your life. You should talk to a lawyer about where you’re going to be in the future if you’re divorcing later in life.
What Happens To Marital Assets Of Older People Getting Divorced?
A divorce is the separation of spouses. Each spouse theoretically gets half of the property that was acquired during the marriage. Not all of the property that the married couple has is property that was acquired during the marriage. The property that would be excluded from the estate would be items that were acquired by gift or inheritance, or property that was excluded pursuant to an agreement, like a prenuptial agreement.
Gifts and inheritance often come from parents and they can be sizable. A lot of times, this non-marital property results in a pretty significant inequity between the financial positions of the parties after the divorce. In Maryland, the division of property is called equitable and theoretically equitable is not equal. It means dividing the property in a way that achieves the fairest result. A lot of times, property may be titled in one person’s name and not the other. The way equalization occurs is the court awards the person with the lesser property a monetary award.
Often, a monetary reward takes place in the form of a pension. The pension is titled in the name of one spouse, not the other, and the court wants to award a portion of that pension to the non-entitled spouse. That’s done through a specific court order, called a qualified domestic relations order. One of the most devastating things that people realize in divorce is when there is one party that has a lot of retirement assets and not the other party. When that asset gets divided in half, your retirement plan may come to a hard stop and have to be reconfigured.
What Considerations Will The Court Make With Regard To Income In Divorces With Older Couples?
Most often, one spouse earns significantly more money than the other spouse. If you equally divide the assets and you have one spouse making $200,000 and the other spouse making $40,000, what happens is the spouse who is earning less money doesn’t really have any discretionary income. Because of the small salary, the amount that they contribute to retirement is considerably smaller, if they can contribute anything. The spouse with the higher income, and now a smaller household financial responsibility, is able to save significantly and make up for the division of the marital assets.
Income matters and a lot of times, the court will award a lesser earning spouse alimony. It’s very important that attorneys representing people who are divorcing later in life factor the need to retire into any argument involving alimony. A fundamental consideration that’s often overlooked is the social security income. Often, the financially dominant spouse is going to receive the maximum social security payment, whereas the more dependent spouse is going to receive just a nominal amount from social security. They can opt to receive under their spouse’s social security benefit and receive half of what the spouse is receiving. A lot of times that will be better.
When an attorney representing a spouse who hasn’t earned significant money during the marriage is doing the analysis of what type of alimony, the amount of alimony, and the duration of alimony that is needed, social security and pension income needs to be analyzed. These arguments must be presented to the court, so that the financially dependent spouse has a better chance of getting themselves situated so that they can retire with a reasonable lifestyle.
For more information on Divorce Trends In the State Of Maryland, an initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (301) 515-1190 today.