Protecting Your Rights & Advocating For Your Interests
Getting a divorce at any point in life is hard. No matter how long the marriage lasts, the emotional impact divorce has on spouses and their immediate family members can be considerable. This is especially true when you get a divorce at an older age.
If you’ve been married for a considerable amount of time, your assets and life affairs may be significantly entangled with those of your spouse. Dividing your assets and coming to an agreement on matters that could drastically affect your future can be challenging. You need an attorney who has experience helping older spouses navigate the divorce process.
The divorce attorneys at Halligan LLC have in-depth experience helping senior spouses get the best possible outcomes in their divorce, enabling them to land on solid ground and move forward with their lives. We can help you do the same. Call us today at (720) 608-2361 or contact us online for a consultation to discuss the details of your divorce and how we can protect your best interests.
The Realities of a Late-Life Divorce
The prospect of life after a divorce from someone you’ve been married to for a significant portion of your life and the process of going through that divorce can seem daunting. Some older couples in the past have steered away from divorce because it seemed too emotionally and logistically difficult to carry out.
But divorce has become more common, not only among younger generations but among senior citizens as well. According to an analysis of the 2015 American Community Survey and the 1990 Vital Statistics by the Pew Research Center, divorce rates for every 1,000 married couples over the age of 50 increased by 109 percent from 1990 to 2015. Divorce rates for every 1,000 married couples over the age of 65 increased by 300 percent in the same period.
The truth is, unfortunately, not every marriage lasts forever. And as you age, you can become more in tune with what you want out of the rest of your life. Maybe you feel as though divorce is something you should have gone through years ago. Maybe now that any children you and your spouse have are now all grown up and moving on with their lives, you and your spouse have realized that you’re not as compatible as you may have thought. Perhaps now that you’re both retired, you’ve had more time to pay attention to unresolved issues that have been present in your marriage all along.
Part of the reason getting a divorce later in life may feel frightening for some older spouses is because it’s all they’ve known for years. Their finances and other affairs have been combined for so long that it may be challenging for them to consider how to separate everything.
Common Issues in a Senior Divorce
Some people think that getting a divorce later in life may be easier since young children are not likely to be involved, but senior divorces are just as complex as other divorces and involve their own set of challenges. Some of the main factors that senior couples will need to consider in their divorce include:
Dividing Property, Assets, and Debts
Dividing your property and assets later in life can be more complicated than it is for younger couples because of the large amount of assets you and your spouse may have acquired and shared over the years. Your property and assets may include your homes, cars, jewelry, furniture, money, bank accounts, retirement benefits, stocks, and businesses.
It’s important to determine what property you and your spouse obtained during your marriage because, in Colorado, that property must be divided between the two of you equitably, or fairly. It’s also crucial to know that debt may also considered marital property, so your debts may be divided fairly between you both, as well.
Finances: Retirement Benefits, Income, and Spousal Maintenance
Retirement benefits are valuable for any couple but especially for older couples, who commonly live on fixed incomes. Because of this, they’re a key consideration in a senior divorce. The retirement benefits you and your spouse earned during your marriage will likely be considered marital property and therefore subject to allocation between the two of you.
If either or both of you are already retired, you may not be able to support yourself with your individual retirement benefits. If either of you is living off of your retirement benefits or a fixed income, it may also be harder to determine spousal support/maintenance if one of you qualifies for it. In Colorado, if you’ve been married for longer than three years, the courts will consider several factors regarding your marriage and financial status to determine if maintenance is owed and the amount of maintenance.
In marriages longer than 20 years, a spouse could potentially be awarded spousal maintenance for the rest of their life. However, the court will take into consideration the fixed income that older spouses may be living on to determine if a spouse could even afford to pay spousal maintenance and if a spouse needs spousal maintenance.
In older age, few things are more important than maintaining reliable medical insurance. This can be a primary concern for divorcing seniors. If a spouse has been a beneficiary on their spouse’s medical insurance, that spouse will have to obtain their own medical insurance upon divorce. This may not be the case if, as is common for older adults, both spouses receive government-provided healthcare, Medicare.
At an older age, you may start making plans about your estate. You may have already started making these plans when you were younger or during your marriage. If you’ve done any estate planning while you were married, you likely based much of the details of your estate and how it would be managed and distributed after your life on your marriage at the time. You likely named your spouse as the beneficiary and/or executor of your estate in the event of your untimely or natural passing.
If your spouse has been written into your will, trust, advanced or medical directive, or Power of Attorney in the event you become mentally incapacitated, you may want to remove them from those legal documents after the divorce is finalized. You’ll have to consider this with your divorce attorney and also have all of your estate planning documents updated with your estate planning attorney.
How an Attorney Could Help
If you’re an older individual that’s considering divorce or beginning the divorce process, it’s important to talk to an attorney who has in-depth experience with senior divorce cases and understands the emotional, financial, and logistical factors involved.
A knowledgeable and compassionate divorce attorney can review your circumstances with you and help you understand your rights and options in regard to property and assets division, division of retirement benefits, spousal support, healthcare concerns, and other factors that arise.
They can also help you determine how best to navigate the divorce process given your relationship with your spouse, whether that involves a collaborative approach, mediation, or litigation. From initiating or responding to the divorce petition to negotiating assertively for a fair divorce settlement, a skilled attorney can help ensure you get the best possible outcome in your case.
Why Choose Halligan LLC?
At Halligan LLC, we understand how difficult divorce is for older adults. We also have in-depth experience handling divorces between senior spouses, so we have a vast understanding of the complexity of Colorado’s divorce laws, particularly regarding the division of shared property. We are also sensitive to the unique challenges that arise when spouses go their separate ways later in life.
We’re here to fight on your behalf to help you pursue the outcome you need in our divorce, so you can begin planning for the rest of your life. Call us today at (720) 608-2361 or contact us online to learn about your best options.