What are the Underlying Concerns of Mature and Senior Divorces?
The underlying concerns of a mature and senior divorce often differ from those of a younger couple.
A couple may decide to divorce at any point in their relationship. Although many couples decide to separate in the early years of the relationship, others encounter difficulties in the relationship many years later.
Each couple’s relationship is distinct and unique. However, some common issues tend to damage relationships, including financial problems and extramarital relationships. According to Pew Research Center, gray divorcestatistics continue are on the rise for older Americans:
• The divorce rate among adults aged 50 and older has increased 109 percent between the years of 1990-2015.
• The American Community Survey shows that the rate of divorce for adults aged 50-plus has remained relatively constant since 2008.
• According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the National Center for Health Statistics, the divorce rate for adults aged 65-plus has tripled between the years of 1990-2015.
• Adults between the ages of 40-49 have seen a 14 percent increase in divorce during the 25-year period.
Issues Involved in Senior and Mature Divorce
People divorce for many reasons. Most do so to solve an unhappy relationship. However, divorcing parties typically come to the table with common worries and concerns:
• For senior and mature couples, the focus almost always concerned financial security.
• If the couple is still raising children, they want clarity about child support, child custody, and parenting time.
Financial issues are particularly significant in a mature divorce because both partners may have already retired. After retirement, the couples’ ability to create new financial assets or income streams may be reduced.
If one of the partners in the divorce is still working, he or she might elect to retire. He or she now needs to know enough money is available to support his or her lifestyle.
Unlike younger divorcing couples who agree to temporary spousal support agreements, older individuals may need financial support over a longer period of time. In 2016, the New York legislature enacted new maintenance laws that provide guidance based on the couples’ income and guidance concerning the period over which financial maintenance is provided.
In January 2016, New York State enacted new alimony laws. The law significantly affects post-divorce spousal maintenance and/or temporary spousal maintenance:
• Temporary spousal maintenance is a sum of money that is paid to a spouse when a divorce is pending.
• After a divorce is granted, spousal maintenance is the amount of money that’s paid or received between the parties.
In the past, the court had a single formula to calculate temporary spousal maintenance. Today, a single formula is used to calculate temporary spousal maintenance as well as post-divorce spousal maintenance.
It’s important to know that the formula is referred to as a guideline, however. A presiding judge can elect to override the formula if he or she feels the amount is inappropriate or “unjust” after the consideration of several factors:
• Two different scenarios exist 1) the payor spouse pays child support and 2) the payor spouse receives (doesn’t pay) child support.
• If the payor spouse also pays child support, New York guidelines typically result in his or her paying less than if he or she receives (doesn’t pay) child support.
• In general terms, the payor spouse paying child support may have less money to pay his or her spouse maintenance.
• The guidelines use an income cap ($175,000). If the payor spouse’s income is higher than $175,000, the formula still uses the cap. (The income cap may be recalculated to a higher or lower amount based on the CPI.)
• However, if a divorcing spouse’s income is higher than $175,000, the court may elect to award more maintenance to the receiving spouse.
Other Financial Issues in Mature Divorce
Of course, a senior couple’s financial concerns are seldom limited to maintenance concerns. In most instances, the couple must divide the assets they have accumulated over the years via equitable distribution.
Distribution of marital assets in New York
The market value of the couple’s assets isn’t the single determining factor regarding their worth. Some of the couple’s assets may hold a higher personal value to one or both spouses than others:
• In New York, the couple’s assets must be shared fairly and equitably between the partners.
• Some couples decide to use mediation or collaborative law to arrive at a financial decision between themselves.
• If the couple cannot arrive at an equitable division of assets, the court is called upon to decide how these assets will be shared.
If the partners were married for many years, the divorce court wants to ensure that neither party is left in poverty after the divorce is finalized. For instance, if one party receives the primary residence in the agreement, his or her partner receives an asset that balances this out. If the parties are retired, this could mean he or she is awarded a greater percentage of the pension or retirement fund assets.
Distribution of retirement plan assets
Senior and mature divorcing couples must consider the impact of Social Security retirement benefits, pensions, 401k plans, IRA plans, and other retirement assets.
It’s essential for both parties to consult with an experienced divorce attorney, even if the couple decides to accomplish the distribution of assets through mediation. He will support the client’s best interests in these negotiations.
Children, child support, and future parenting agreements in a mature divorce
Although most senior and mature divorces are typically less focused on children, some divorcing couples must consider custody, visitation, child support, and parenting time.
Mediation and collaborative divorce may help the parties to consider these emotional issues with less stress.
Contact an Experienced Senior and Mature Divorce Attorney
Senior and mature divorce is often complicated. If you are thinking about divorce at any age, it’s important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney. Contact us to schedule a consultation.