Berman & Asbel, LLP

Older adults have different property division issues in divorce

Pennsylvania residents are aware that divorce rates are high for American couples. However, many assume that divorce is not common among older people, and that once a marriage has tested the limits of 10 or more years, that it is more likely to go the distance. Recent research contradicts those assumptions, and states that one in four people who obtain a divorce are 50 years of age or older. As this trend is expected to continue to rise, it is important to discuss the different issues related to property division that older spouses may face.

Older couples often have more marital assets to divide. While this can help both parties start over with better financial security, the details of dividing complex assets can prove tricky. For example, retirement income can be split between parties, but there are often financial losses that accompany making adjustments to retirement savings. The same rule applies to investment income, whereby losses can come from liquidating accounts or dividing ownership.

In addition, health care is a concern for many older adults. If health insurance is provided for both spouses through the employment benefits of one, that coverage can be lost when the divorce is final. Such a scenario could leave one party without coverage and with an uphill battle to find a new policy that is both comprehensive and affordable.

Older couples in Pennsylvania who are facing divorce should ensure that both spouses are fully aware of the current state of their financial standing, as well as the potential ramifications of all choices made during the negotiation period. Property division issues can leave one spouse at a distinct disadvantage as he or she begins a new life as a single person. The best way to avoid a negative financial outcome is to obtain full understanding of the issues that are specific to older adults who divorce, and make all subsequent choices according to one's best interests.

Source: WKMG, "Divorce rates rising among older people," Oct. 29, 2012

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