Berman & Asbel, LLP

Property division more complex for older spouses

Pennsylvania readers will recognize the current trend in divorce statistics involving older Americans. Changes in the way that we enter into and end our marriages leave older adults with unique property division needs. If these needs are not properly addressed during a divorce, serious financial difficulties can result.

In the days of our grandparents' marriage, very few unions ended in divorce. Most couples simply weathered the ups and downs of their marriage, even when one or both parties were unhappy or utterly unfulfilled. When a couple did call it quits, that news rapidly made the rounds in social circles.

Changing social norms have made divorce far more accessible to couples of today. There is very little social stigma attached to a failed marriage, and multiple unions have become not only acceptable, but almost expected. Husbands and wives place a great deal of expectation on marriage, and when those expectations are not met, divorce is not only an option, but is often considered the solution. This trend is noted among older spouses, as well.

It is estimated that one in four divorced spouses are 50 years of age or older. Older spouses have different needs in terms of divorce negotiations involving property division. For one, there is simply less time to make up for significant losses due to divorce. In addition, many older Pennsylvania spouses came into the marriage with more property and assets, making property division a more complex process than younger couples often experience. It is important to make wise decisions at the end of a later-life marriage, as the financial ramifications can color one's remaining years.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "A 'gray divorce' boom," Susan L. Brown, March 31, 2013

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