What financial factors affect couples after gray divorces?
When couples who are 50 or older divorce, their ages could be a factor in alimony awards, retirement division and Social Security benefits.
In Connecticut, divorce has become a socially acceptable option for any couple who discovers their marriage is unhealthy, or even merely disappointing. Increasingly, age is not a factor when it comes to marital dissolution. In fact, U.S. News & World Report notes that gray divorce, which involves couples ages 50 and older, is prevalent enough to be considered a trend.
While those who are filing for divorce over the age of 50 have financial concerns that may vary significantly from those of their younger counterparts. When discussing a settlement agreement, alimony, retirement and Social Security benefits are often factors to consider for those who want to leave the workforce within a few years of divorce.
Often in marriage, the success of one spouse’s career is the result of sacrifices made by the other spouse. Forbes Magazine explains that the intention of alimony is to ensure that spouses who gave up the ability to be self-supporting should continue to receive the financial benefits of that career until they can get their own careers going. Connecticut Judges are required to consider a number of factors in determination amount and duration of alimony – they include ability of a party to acquire future capital assets, length of marriage and age of the parties (how many more working years does each party have). A person who is near retirement may not have the time, resources or ability to do this, in which case the judge is more likely to award permanent alimony.
Retirement and pension accounts are divisible assets if a person contributed to them during the marriage, so they would be divided equitably between the spouses. According to USA Today, some financial experts state that the cost of retirement for two single people is between 30 and 50 percent more than what it would take for a couple to retire. Between that factor and the reduced funds, a person may need to delay retirement considerably, as well as adjust lifestyle expectations.
Social Security benefits
Social Security benefits may be a bright spot for both spouses if they have been married at least 10 years, according to the U.S. Social Security Administration. Regardless of how long ago the divorce took place, when one ex-spouse reaches the age of 62, the other is entitled to half the amount of the total benefits if certain conditions are met. Those who would not qualify on their own for as much as the half payment can receive up to that amount as long as they do not remarry. This does not diminish the benefits received by the one who earned them.
The complexities of gray divorce do not necessarily have to send the couple into litigation. A divorce attorney who is also skilled at mediation or collaborative divorce may be able to help them to reach a reasonable settlement without depleting their resources in court.