What is “Late-Life Divorce”?

Late-life divorce refers to divorces that occur when the couple is well advanced in years (usually over 50 years old).  Couples that seek divorce in their later years may face different legal issues than partners who divorce at an earlier age.  For example, issues like health concerns and retirement are common in late life divorces.  Also, late-life divorce usually doesn’t include issues such as child custody or child support, since the couple’s children are usually grown up at that point.

While late life divorce can impact each partner in a less emotional way, it can often leave each partner less time to for financial recovery.  This is one of the main concerns involved with late life divorce.

What are Some Legal Issues Involved in Late-Life Divorce?

Late-life divorce can involve legal issues and disputes that aren’t as common in divorce among younger couples.  These issues typically involve:

  • Division of Assets and Properties:  Older persons tend to accumulate more possessions over time.  This may factor in with the overall distribution of assets and properties when the couple divorces.  Also, there may be changes in the way property gets characterized over time (whether separate or community property).
  • Social Security Benefits:  Certain social security benefits are transferable to a spouse.  These may also be major factors in a late-life divorce.
  • Retirement Packages:  Retirement and pension benefits can usually transfer to an eligible spouse.  Thus, upon divorce the couple might have to work out how retirement benefits will be distributed.
  • Health Care Directives:  A health care directive deals with assigning a representative in the event that a person becomes incapacitated.  Many couples name their spouse as the representative.  This may have to be altered upon divorce
  • Certain Tax issues:  In later years, a person may become eligible for certain tax deductions, especially in the areas of mortgages.  Eligibility for such tax breaks can be affected by a late-life divorce.

The exact way that such issues get resolved will of course depend on the facts involved in each individual case.  Also, state laws can vary on some of these subjects.  For these reasons, it’s usually best to work with a lawyer during the late-life divorce process.

What’s a Qualified Domestic Relations Order?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, is a type of court order.  It covers the division of retirement benefits for couples seeking a late-life divorce.  Since retirement plans can often be complicated, it may be necessary for the parties to work out a QDRO during the divorce process. 

You may wish to consider filing a qualified domestic relations order if there are any issues regarding:

  • Retirement benefit distributions and tax consequences
  • Issues with prior loans and debts to be repaid
  • Issues with alternative benefit plans, such as military survivor benefit plans

Do I need a Lawyer for Help with a Late-Life Divorce?

Late-life divorces can present several unique challenges for the parties involved.  It’s to your benefit to hire a divorce lawyer in your area if you need help with a late-life divorce.  A qualified divorce attorney will be familiar with the issues involved with late life divorce, and can represent you in court during the hearings.