Divorce as an Older Couple: What to Know

It’s no secret that in today’s world, approximately half of the marriages in the United States end up in divorce.

However, the divorcing parties are not always who one might expect. Nowadays, older couples are divorcing at a higher rate than many other age groups.

This trend, often called “silver” or “gray” divorce, has come about due to several factors, including people living longer lives, women becoming more financially independent and a general feeling amongst some people that “adequate” isn’t enough. To them, being happy could mean seeking out new experiences or a new partner, and taking the step of being on one’s own is a better option than staying in a ho-hum marriage.

Ending a marriage in one’s fifties or later is very different from getting divorced at a younger age. The emotional impact is certainly significant, but the financial aspects of a later in life divorce can be very consequential. There are many factors that must be considered during divorce proceedings for older couples.

Nevada is a community property state, meaning all income and property that was acquired during the course of the marriage is owned equally by each partner. Hence, what follows is that all assets are divided equally amongst the couple. Dividing assets amongst an older couple is usually much more complex because there are often more assets to consider. In addition, there are many rules that come into play for older adults, particularly around social security and tax benefits.

Who Gets the House?

For example, an older couple that owns a home together must decide who will keep the house. There are significant benefits for the party who retains the home, including possible age related real estate property tax exemptions, as well as eligibility for a reverse mortgage at age 62. In addition, mortgage interest is a significant tax benefit for many homeowners.

What about the party who has to move? It can be a considerable upheaval for someone who has been settled for many years to have to possibly move to a smaller residence or buy a new home. All factors should be considered to make the transition easy for both parties.

Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts are another asset that will be split between divorcing parties. An assessment of the retirement account doesn’t just include the amount of money in it – it also includes looking at whether there are any loans taken against the account if tax free distributions can occur and what other types of withdrawals may occur. Divorcing parties should obtain a copy of the Summary Plan Description about the account, and also consult with a lawyer to be sure the account division is handled properly.

Social Security Benefits

While social security benefits are not a divisible asset, it is important to understand what is available here. Depending on the length of the marriage and the age of the parties, this may be a potential source of income. This is especially helpful if one of the divorcing parties has been out of the workforce for an extended period of time. The Social Security Administration has additional information on how much parties are entitled to in benefits.

Health Concerns

Silver divorces can mean a lack of companionship in later years, and may mean no one is available to care for a party who may face health issues. This should be addressed when discussing assets, especially if one party may not have the ability to earn an income in future years.

Get Legal Help

If you’re facing a later in life divorce in Las Vegas, contact an experienced Nevada family law attorney today to help you navigate through the process.