Divorce affects all age groups. It is not just limited to newlyweds or empty nesters. Divorce for people in their 60s and 70s is becoming increasingly common.
Divorce is a challenging and emotionally charged process at any age, but for individuals over 60, it brings a unique set of challenges. In recent years, the phenomenon of “gray divorce” has been on the rise, with an increasing number of couples choosing to part ways later in life. This shift has significant implications for various aspects of their lives, from finances and family dynamics to emotional well-being.
What is Gray Divorce?
Gray divorce, a term coined for divorces occurring among individuals aged 60 and older, represents a departure from traditional expectations of lifelong matrimony. Unlike divorces at earlier stages, these separations often involve couples who have weathered the complexities of decades-long relationships, raising families, and building shared histories.
According to data from 2017, New Hampshire was in the bottom quartile when it came to gray divorce rates. In fact, all New England states, with the exception of Connecticut, were in the bottom half. But nationwide, gray divorce rates have still been rising. In a recent analysis of divorce data from 1990 to 2021, Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research found divorce rates among people 65 and older tripled, while divorce rates for those under 45 decreased.
Researchers say this phenomenon may be unique to the baby boomer generation and is a result of society’s evolving tolerance for divorce and women’s growing financial independence.
Legal Considerations for Gray Divorce in NewHampshire
Embarking on a divorce journey later in life brings forth a host of legal considerations that demand careful attention. An experienced New Hampshire divorce can help navigate all these aspects of a late-life divorce.
- Property Division: One of the foremost concerns in divorces over 60 is the equitable distribution of assets acquired throughout a marriage. From real estate and investments to all other property collected over the years, understanding how these assets are classified and divided is crucial. An attorney will explore the legal principles guiding property division and offer strategies for achieving a fair and balanced outcome.
- Spousal Support and Alimony: Spousal support, also known as alimony, plays a pivotal role in many divorces, particularly those occurring later in life. A divorce attorney can provide guidance into the factors that influence the determination of spousal support, addressing the financial considerations and the duration of support payments. Understanding the intricacies of alimony is essential for both parties involved in the divorce process.
- Retirement Accounts and Benefits: Divorcing later in life often involves navigating the complexities of dividing retirement accounts and benefits. Whether dealing with pensions, 401(k)s, or Social Security benefits, properly handling retirement accounts is paramount to securing financial stability for both parties post-divorce.
- Tax Implications and Estate Planning: The tax landscape is another critical facet of later-life divorces. An attorney can help shed light on the potential tax implications of divorce settlements, including considerations related to property transfers and spousal support. Additionally, it will be important to make sure estate planning documents are updated to reflect any changes in the parties’ wishes as a result of the divorce.
- Healthcare and Insurance Benefits: The dissolution of a marriage often triggers changes in health insurance coverage, a vital component of overall well-being. Understanding the nuances of health coverage during and after the divorce is crucial for maintaining access to necessary medical care. For individuals in their golden years, implications for Medicare and long-term care become increasingly pertinent concerns. Divorce can complicate existing plans and arrangements for long-term care. Divorce also prompts a reevaluation of who holds decision-making authority in medical matters. It is important to address these considerations in the divorce process, including planning for potential future needs and securing necessary resources.
Given the intricacies involved in divorces over 60, seeking the guidance of an experienced family law attorney becomes paramount.
Emotional and Social Considerations
For individuals over 60, divorce often involves a significant shift in social dynamics. Friendships and family relationships may be strained, and there might be a need to rebuild a support network. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be common, making it essential for individuals to actively seek out social connections, join community groups, and engage in activities that bring joy and fulfillment.
Despite the challenges, divorce in later life can also be an opportunity for personal growth, self-discovery, and reinvention. Individuals over 60 have the chance to explore new interests, establish their independence, and redefine their sense of identity. It's important to focus on the positive aspects of this life transition and embrace the potential for a fulfilling future.
At Shaheen & Gordon, we understand that divorce is a challenging topic, but we believe in helping people achieve the resolution they need to move forward with their lives no matter the timing. Our New Hampshire divorce attorneys have the experience to get you the results you need while handling emotionally charged situations with understanding and compassion. If you are ready to speak to a divorce attorney, please contact us.
Attorney Lyndsay Robinsonis counsel at Shaheen & Gordon, focusing on family law and estate planning. She serves on the board of the New Hampshire Women’s Bar Association and is the ABA Young Lawyers Delegate for the New Hampshire Bar Association.