Maryland residents may know the divorce rate among the younger population has decreased over the past 25 years. On the other hand, many more couples over 50 are now seeking divorce than ever before. This fairly recent trend — often called “gray divorce” — could be a result of changing priorities, greater financial independence of women or even more accessible health care, among other things. Whatever the reason for the split, older couples who have decided to divorce should be aware of a few specific challenges they may face as they make this major life transition.
Considerations around asset division
For one, divorcing older couples typically do not have the same opportunity for future earning potential as a younger divorcing couple. In fact, often, older couples have already retired, closing the door on the asset pool, which may make asset division more challenging. However, being at a later stage in life, older couples may have more assets to divide. During discussions around asset division, including decisions about the marital home, divorcing couples should also factor in tax implications; for example, early withdrawals from a 401(k) will be subject to penalties.
Reimagining retirement plans
As well, older divorcing individuals are wise to educate themselves on living expenses, especially those who have not participated much in household finances over the years. Some people may find the cost of living somewhat of a shock. A divorcing spouse who finds he or she does not have enough money to satisfactorily operate a separate household may have to postpone retirement plans or, if already retired, think about re-entering the workforce. As well, some divorcing older couples may still have dependent children and have to work toward a custody agreement, and an individual paying child support may also find his or her retirement plans affected.
Older Maryland couples who decide to part ways may find greater challenges as they begin the divorce process. However, they should try to maintain an amicable relationship and collaborate on future plans as much as possible. Although one or both may have to reimagine retirement plans, working toward a solution together will likely result in a future that works for everyone. Divorce at any age can be daunting, so many individuals looking to begin this process turn to an experienced family law attorney.