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Things to consider for late-in-life divorces

Late-in-life divorce is becoming increasingly common. It seems that as America continues to age, so does the age at which people file for divorce. In fact, divorce rates for couples over 50 double. But just because your marriage has lasted the past 20 years, does not mean that you should stick it out simply for tradition or stubbornness. A marriage that works is a beautiful thing. A marriage that does not quickly becomes toxic for everyone involved.

One of the first things that many older couples fear is that the court will treat them differently due to their age. While your age will play a factor, it is not determinative of the outcome of your divorce. Anyone can get divorced, at any age. Rather, your age will impact the proceedings simply because you have had a longer time to acquire assets which make the property division more complicated.

But the court does impose some things that are usually reserved for older couples. For example, spousal support usually ends after a term of months or years, while the other person can still work. But if you divorce in late in life, say, while retired, it becomes unreasonable to force the other person to go back to work or school. In these situations, the court will often order spousal support to continue until death, which can be years.

Additionally, courts will often impose a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). QDROs allows your ex-spouse to share in your retirement. It is a way for the court to ensure that adequate support is paid, even though you may no longer earn a traditional salary.

If you are considering a late-in-life divorce, don't ignore it simply because you fear the economic consequences. A lawyer can go over the divorce legal issues inherent in a high asset divorce, to prepare you to confront them. Additionally, don't forget that while you may be "ready" for the divorce, the emotional impact of divorce is quite different once you take that final step. An attorney can be there to help you through this dark period in your life; you don't need to walk through it alone. 

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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