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Divorce for Seniors


The number of people in the United States who are 65 and older is 46 million. By 2060, that number will hit 98 million. With life expectancy increasing from 68 in 1950 to 79 in 2013, it’s no surprise those 65 and older may experience something as relatively common as divorce. Ever since ending a marriage became more socially acceptable, couples have decided to separate and go their different ways rather than “suffering in silence” as countless generations have done in previous decades. However, divorce for seniors and divorce for people in a younger age bracket have slightly different parameters. If you’re a senior thinking about divorce, take into consideration the following factors.

Retirement Funds Will Split Evenly

No matter who initiates the divorce, a couple’s retirement fund and other assets will be divided evenly between the two. Half of your nest egg will exit the marriage with your spouse. For those who are unprepared, this change can be a particularly harsh financial blow. While those who are younger can recoup that loss with years of hard work and investments, seniors are at a point in life when all that saving and effort should be behind them. Ideally, seniors are retired and living comfortably on their investments, but that comfort can disappear after a divorce. While it’s against the law, companies are much less likely to hire a senior than a person under the age of 65. Not only will the company get more years of work out of a younger person, but it can also pay them significantly less. So, not only will your retirement funds be halved, but you will likely have a difficult time finding an adequate job that will make up the difference—assuming you want to come out of retirement. This scenario is significantly more likely to affect older women, because of income disparity between the sexes. A 2015 study reported that senior women who divorce are 27% more likely to live in poverty compared to 11% of senior men.

Alimony Will Likely Be Granted

Because younger people are more likely to find better financial support after a divorce, spousal support may not be awarded. However, seniors are in a different situation. The court may give a spouse alimony for the remainder of his or her life, particularly if one of the seniors is still working. The amount can be negotiated, particularly if you are willing to forgo some of the retirement funds.

Living Situation

When a couple who owns a home splits, one spouse may be granted the residence at the expense of something else. For example, if a woman keeps her house, her spouse may be given more of the retirement fund. Whoever moves out will also need to find new living arrangements, which may be more expensive than he or she realizes. For instance, in 2011 the average one-bedroom apartment cost $1,268 a month. By January of 2017, that one-bedroom average became $1,900. Unless the building is rent controlled, that cost is also likely to increase as inflation rises. Senior apartment rent tends to run a little lower. If you’re moving out, shop around to see which senior apartments offer the best rates.

Divorce is difficult in most situations. Make sure you consider how your situation will change once the decision to separate is made. If you’re thinking about divorce, contact us at (949) 681-9952 or fill out our online form for a complimentary consultation with an Irvine divorce attorney. Discuss your situation with professionals who can help.