At any age, a divorce can be unnerving and emotionally devastating, but when you’re older, if you fail to protect yourself, a divorce can also be absolutely devastating financially.
The Pew Research Center reports that the rate of divorce for adults in their fifties and sixties has doubled over the last quarter-century.
WHAT IS YOUR TOP CONCERN IF YOU DIVORCE WHEN YOU’RE OLDER?
When people who are in their fifties and sixties divorce, retirement is not that far away, so it is imperative for those persons to make the protection of their retirement funds a top priority.
If you are over fifty, and if you are divorcing or expecting to divorce in southern California, an experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the divorce process while aggressively protecting your personal finances – and particularly your retirement funds.
But even before you meet with a lawyer, and before any divorce papers are filed, you can prepare for divorce and begin to protect yourself financially. How to do that is explained here.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO PROTECT YOUR FINANCES IN A DIVORCE?
Write up a list of all of your assets in two columns. Put all of the jointly-held assets in one column and all of the assets you hold personally in the other column.
In most cases, inheritances are considered personal and individual property, but every situation is different, so if you received an inheritance in the course of your marriage, be sure to tell your attorney about it.
Especially when an older couple gets a divorce in this state, the employment histories and experiences of both divorcing spouses can influence a court’s decisions regarding the final divorce settlement.
WHAT IS THE DIVORCE RATE FOR OLDER ADULTS?
That figure has been confirmed by research conducted at Bowling Green State University. Currently, the “gray” divorce rate in the United States is approximately fifteen percent.
In California, the division of a couple’s jointly-owned assets and properties is a part of every divorce.
Houses, other properties, vehicles, family businesses, and other possessions are divided in a divorce procedure.
Often, however, the largest assets a couple will have to divide after a long marriage are the couple’s retirement funds and benefits.
HOW CAN AN OCEANSIDE DIVORCE LAWYER HELP?
In a California divorce, retirement accounts and pensions are split evenly, but only those funds that were acquired during the course of the marriage are divisible and are considered joint marital property.
An experienced divorce lawyer can ensure that any retirement funds that may be yours alone are safeguarded and remain yours alone in a divorce.
When younger people get a divorce, they have plenty of time remaining to build their individual careers and to save and invest for their retirements.
WHY SHOULD YOU LIST AND CONTACT FORMER EMPLOYERS?
Thus, another item you will need to have is a detailed list of all of your own past and present employers as well as your spouse’s past and present employers.
Contact all of your past and current employers to determine if you may be entitled to pension funds or any other funds that you may not be aware of.
It is not uncommon for people to forget – or never know in the first place – about money or benefits left behind at a job.
If you have not worked during the marriage – but you’ve raised the family and you have supported your spouse’s career – your attorney and the court should know all of the details.
CAN YOU ENSURE THAT AN ALIMONY AWARD WILL BE PAID?
If you believe that you will receive alimony (called “spousal support” in California law), you will need to determine – or to ask your divorce lawyer – how your alimony will be protected if your ex-spouse experiences unemployment, a pay cut, or a disability or death.
If your alimony is supposed to be protected by insurance coverage, ask for the insurance paperwork and review it thoroughly with your attorney.
Sometimes a one-time, lump-sum alimony settlement is advantageous to both parties, so it’s an option that both spouses should consider seriously.
WHY IS LIFE INSURANCE IMPORTANT WHEN OLDER ADULTS DIVORCE?
Of course, every divorce and every divorcing couple is unique, so it is always best to review all of your options with your divorce attorney.
Then adhere to your attorney’s advice and trust your attorney to fight aggressively on behalf of your best long-term interests.
Life insurance may not be a central issue when two people divorce in their twenties, but it is a lot more important if you are divorcing after age fifty.
Try to have yourself named as both the owner and as the beneficiary of the life insurance contract.
This makes the payment obligation yours and gives you alone control over the contract.
ARE DIVORCING SPOUSES ENTITLED TO OTHER BENEFITS?
Many who are divorcing in California do not know that they may qualify to collect from the ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits – provided the marriage lasted ten years or longer.
Everyone’s situation regarding Social Security will be different, so you will need to contact Social Security to determine your eligibility to collect from your ex-spouse’s benefits.
WHAT DO DIVORCING OLDER ADULTS OFTEN OVERLOOK?
Finally, it is imperative for you to change the beneficiaries on all of your accounts, titles, and policies. It’s a small matter that can be easy to overlook during a divorce.
One California man was married for fifteen years to a second wife before he learned that his first wife’s name was still on the title of the home.
HOW CAN YOU EASE SOME OF THE STRESS THAT COMES WITH DIVORCE?
Divorce is always difficult; a lot of details will require your attention, and you’ll have to cope with stress and with the emotional toll that a divorce can take.
Being thoroughly organized and prepared to deal with the financial side of divorce can ease some of that stress and emotional weight.
HOW CAN A DIVORCE ATTORNEY HELP?
The financial side of a divorce can be considered challenging for anyone who is at or approaching retirement age.
A divorce attorney will fight to protect your rights, assets, and financial interests from the very beginning of a California divorce.
Do not place your future at risk. If you are divorcing, don’t hesitate to get the trustworthy and experienced legal help you need. It’s your right.