Alabama Divorce After 50: Unique Considerations for Older Divorcees

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Sep 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

It's true that the longer a couple is married, the more likely the marriage is to last.

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However, many older couples today are deciding that their union is irretrievably broken. Rather than resign themselves to years of unhappiness, they make the tough decision to move on and make the most of the rest of their lives.

Our Birmingham divorce attorneys recognize that when it comes to older couples or those who have been in longer marriages, there are unique considerations. In some ways, these splits are more simple than those involving younger couples who may have children and a mortgage and many years left of their careers. In other ways, however, things can be more complex. Division of retirement accounts and pensions are a greater looming concern, as are certain tax implications and asset division.

In some ways, these couples are in uncharted territory. Divorce among older individuals did not become fairly common until somewhat recently. According to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, just 2.8 percent of Americans over the age of 50 were divorced 50 years ago. Fast-forward to 2000, and nearly 12 percent of those over 50 were divorced. As of 2011, that figure had reached nearly 15.5 percent, with another 2.1 percent separated – and it's continuing to climb.

The reason this is especially significant is because more than half of the married population is over the age of 50.

Not all of these crumbling unions have been comprised of decades of togetherness. In many cases, we're talking about second and third marriages. Statistically, these are more likely to end. However, because of the ages of those involved, those retirement accounts and tax implications may still be of special concern.

In many cases, pre-tax retirement accounts may actually be a more significant asset than the family home. It's important that you take the time to fully understand the true value of these accounts. Bear in mind that the account might actually be worth less than the stated balance, because the money is taxed upon withdrawal. So for example if you decide that one person will get the house and the other will get the retirement account, it might look like an even split on paper. However, a retirement account is going to be a fair amount less once you take out the funds. Alternatively, a home might be valued at a fair amount less than what is owed on it.

Other important assets to weigh include alimony and Social Security. Most alimony payments in Alabama are going to be temporary, but they could last longer and be more substantial if you were married for a long period of time and gave up a significant portion of your working years to raise children and be a homemaker. Of course, the older you are, the higher the risk that they may die, leaving you without that safety net. You may consider taking out a separate life insurance policy on your ex for this reason. Additionally, don't forget to ask about Social Security benefits, especially if your spouse was the higher income-earner. If you were married for at least a decade, you may be entitled to a portion of your ex's federal benefits once you reach the age of 62, so long as you remain unmarried.

Whatever your circumstances, it will be important that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that no asset or consideration has been overlooked.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

Divorce After 50 Grows More Common, Sept. 20, 2013, By Sam Roberts, The New York Times

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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