Divorce After Fifty and Why You Need a Family Attorney

As a family attorney, we work with couples that are getting a divorce and we are seeing a rising trend in divorce filings for those over fifty.  In fact, a paper published by the University of Minnesota shows that 45 percent of those over fifty have been divorced or separated.  Their data shows that the percentage of divorced people is rising with age, indicating that as the boomers near retirement, the chance of couples staying together does not increase.  If you find yourself in this situation, it is important to seek legal guidance to ensure that your divorce goes through as smoothly as possible.We have found that many older couples aren’t prompted to divorce based on a significant incident but because they simply don’t want to be married anymore.  When this is the case, it can be easier to negotiate a divorce, given that emotions may not be running high.  While there is always a level of sadness with a divorce, when parties aren’t particularly angry it can be easier to work through the issues and often prevent the need to go to court.   In this situation, we recommend mediation.Mediation is a non-binding negotiation session that involves both of your attorneys.  It can be held in a neutral location with both parties in separate rooms.  The attorneys go back and forth to facilitate negotiations.  It can often help to begin with things that both parties can agree on.  For example, each spouse keeping their primary vehicle and any equity or debt associated with it.  Next, move onto another item that is relatively easy like household furniture.  By taking all of the easy things off of the table, you can spend time negotiating things that are more difficult like who gets to keep the house or vacation condo.  If you can’t agree on everything in one sitting, that’s alright.  Whatever you do agree on can be put into a document for both of you to sign.  With certain items off the table, you can come back later for a second mediation session or decide to divide up the remaining assets in court.As a family attorney, we can represent you in both scenarios.One major issue that those over fifty need to address is what to do with retirement accounts.  In younger couples, this is less of an issue but for those over fifty, retirement accounts can represent years of savings and also dictate how comfortable each person will be in the future.  Depending on age, these accounts may be inaccessible without tax penalties.  In this case, further creativity must be applied in order to determine how to buy out the other party.  If you have liquid assets, this may be used or perhaps the other spouse gets more of the home equity, etc.  We can review a variety of scenarios with you to determine what makes the most sense.  Even if your name isn’t on the retirement account, you still have some rights to it so don’t leave anything on the table.  Call our office to speak with a  family attorney before you proceed with your divorce to ensure that you have a proper game plan in place.

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