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Divorce after retirement carries unique challenges

As people in Ohio and across the United States lead longer, healthier lives for years past retirement age, the divorce rate for older couples has grown dramatically. While the divorce rate for American couples has actually declined overall, the rate of divorce for couples over the age of 50 has escalated continually since 1987, growing by over 50 percent. One in four couples decides to divorce after the age of 50, particularly with the approach of retirement age and the "empty nest" after children leave the home.

Divorce can have a different impact on people who have stopped working or are very near to their age of retirement. One of the areas in which this has the strongest impact is in division of property and assets. Older couples often have complex assets, including those on which they will depend after retiring from the workplace. These can include pensions, real estate, investments and stocks, retirement savings and 401(k) plans. Other financial assets, including long-term care insurance, life insurance and Social Security, can also be deeply linked, especially between long-term couples.

Divorce at any age can be emotionally challenging as well as financially and logistically difficult. In some cases, this is even more true for divorcing spouses later in life. Family and friends may have strong emotional reactions to the separation of long-term couples that they have seen as a unit for most of their lives. In addition, at divorce, increased withdrawals from or mandatory division of retirement funds may be necessary and it is easy for people entering divorce to take on escalated personal debt while establishing independent households from what had been combined assets and expenses.

A family law attorney can be a critical resource for people considering divorce later in life. A divorce lawyer can not only provide representation to ensure a person seeking divorce sees a fair division of assets and property but also to provide advice or consult with other financial professionals concerning debts and investments during and after divorce.

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