Children, Assets and Preparing for a Late-Life Divorce

Late-Life Divorce

In Texas and around the country, more people in their 50s and older are deciding to end their marriages. There are many reasons why this might be happening, which you can read about in this recap of a recent Pew Research Center study.  

In this post, we’ll briefly discuss two aspects of late-life divorce (sometimes called “gray divorce”) that you should think about if you’re an older person considering moving on from your marriage. One is money and children, and another is a set of practical issues that often arise.

Money and Children

It is common for young and middle-aged couples to stay together for the sake of their kids, who are usually still living at home or dependent on their parents in significant ways. Once the kids are grown up and have moved out, however, there is less reason for the parents to stay married, less reason to “stick it out” in a marriage that is not working.

Financial positioning, which for younger couples is often tenuous, tends to be a smaller concern for older people. Older adults have had the time to build up a solid financial base, which reduces the need for the two spouses to share resources. With financial independence for both spouses a realistic possibility, they may be more inclined toward ending a marriage that is no longer a happy one.

With children supporting themselves and a strong financial foundation, both spouses may feel like now is the right time to go their separate ways. 

Practical Issues in Late-Life Divorce

While late-life divorce has become more attractive for many, there are some important issues to be dealt with that, while they exist in most divorces no matter what age, their complexity is often greater when the spouses are older.

  • Dividing assets: After decades of working, acquiring property, saving for retirement, and making investments, dividing the marital property can be more complex. The emotional attachment to houses and other property is powerful. And it can take quite a bit longer to inventory marital property.
  • Commingled assets: Texas is a community property state, which makes it critical to distinguish what each spouse owns separately and what is subject to division. This can be challenging when the couple owns stocks, has retirement accounts, or has land that has increased in value during the marriage.
  • Estate planning: Divorce is a major life event, and when it occurs late in life, it is important for both spouses to update any wills, trusts, and other estate documents they may have signed over the years. You might also want to remove your ex-spouse from insurance policies, property deeds, payable-on-death (POD) accounts, and other documents. An estate planning attorney can help you make sure that you’re taking the right steps post-divorce.

The Right Texas Divorce Lawyer Can Help

If you are an older person who has realized your marriage may have reached its end, you deserve the advice and guidance of an experienced attorney who understands what you’re facing. With decades of Texas family law experience, I believe I could be the right lawyer to help you. I would appreciate the opportunity to help you with your late-life divorce. Contact the Law Offices of V. Wayne Ward in Fort Worth if you have any questions.