Sometimes, as people grow and change through the years, they realize they may not be fully satisfied with their marriages. This can happen in any relationship, no matter how long it has lasted. Whether you’re under 30 or over 60, you have a right to happiness and fulfillment. That may mean saying goodbye to a partner with a divorce—even if it’s later in life.

It’s surprisingly common for older couples to divorce. In fact, they may be easier to deal with, because both partners tend to be more emotionally mature and are more willing to compromise. Efficiency in these proceedings often allows individuals to move on and achieve new happiness.

However, there are a few legal concerns in a late-life divorce that may be of concern to you before you make the decision to split. Some factors to consider include asset division, alimony, and retirement. Here’s what you should know about these and other issues so that you can make an informed choice.

older_womanCommon Late-Life Divorce Financial Concerns

Asset division is one of the biggest concerns that many people have, but when you’re 60-plus, you and your spouse may have acquired significant assets and property during your marriage.  

This is often the most complex part of divorce for older couples, as it may be considered a high-asset divorce situation. Making sure everything is catalogued and accounted is important so that when assets are divided, each partner gets his or her fair share.

You should be aware that Washington observes community property law. This means for most types of property, you each have a 50 percent claim to any assets gained by either partner since you got married. There are some exceptions to this law, such as inheritances left only to one partner. Your attorney will help you figure out which assets are community property, and which are separate property.

In some cases, separate property may even be considered fair game during asset division, such as when assets are “commingled” in a way that makes them indistinguishable from other marital property. Commingled assets are common in long-term marriages, and you should be prepared to split them evenly with your former spouse.

Retirement plans and pensions are another major concern for boomers and other late-life couples seeking a divorce. In Washington, retirement plans are typically considered marital property. You may face seeing your retirement cut in half. However, remember when you’re going solo, you may not have as many expenses as when there were two people to support.

If your marriage lasted longer than ten years and you didn’t make as much money as your partner, you may also be eligible for a portion of his or her Social Security benefits, too.

Alimony is much more likely to be granted in a divorce after a long-time marriage, which can boost retirement income. On the other hand, if you're the one who owes alimony, you may be able to use this amount to bargain with in exchange for other assets, increasing your overall share of the community property during asset division. You may also use other assets, such as the value of shared home, in a fair exchange with your spouse.

Get Help With Your Divorce Today

Divorce isn’t easy for anyone. And regardless of your age, it’s not a decision to make lightly. But when it’s finally the right time for you, there’s no time like the present to begin again. Striking out on your own can relieve years of tension and unhappiness, providing you a better outlook and a new lease on life.

Whether you have more questions about getting a divorce later in life, or you’re ready to start proceedings, the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny are here to help you. To arrange a private consultation in our Bellevue office, call us by phone or use our contact form to send an email today.


Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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