How Divorce Among the Over-50 Crowd is Unique in Mississippi

In 1990 only one in four divorces occurred among those aged fifty or above. By 2009, that number had increased to one in every four although overall divorce rates remained steady for the population as a whole. The explanation for the increase in divorce among those over fifty is likely related to several issues rather than a single one. Many of the marriages among this age group are second marriages, which are more than twice as likely to end in divorce no matter what the age of the spouses. Increased life expectancy among this group of baby-boomers could also be a factor; once the children are grown and gone, looking forward to another few decades in a loveless marriage can simply seem like too much. Many of these couples remained in their marriage to avoid subjecting their children to a divorce, but once the children are gone, they may be unable to find any compelling reason to remain in the marriage.

Expectations of Marriage Different for This Age Group

According to sociologists, this age group entered marriage with very different marital expectations than those of their parents and grandparents. Those marrying in the seventies and eighties were more likely to be focused on their individual happiness, wants and needs than on traditional marital roles. In other words, baby-boomers who have sent the last child to college may begin thinking of their own mortality as well as the diminishing possibilities for their own self-fulfillment.

Further, nearly two-thirds of the over-fifty divorces are initiated by women—likely due to the surge of women in the workforce and the ability of women to more easily support themselves following a divorce. If you are expecting to hear that there are now scores of older people living unhappy lives in a cramped apartment, you would be wrong; according to an AARP survey the vast majority of divorcees between the ages of 40 and 79 consider themselves to be “very happy.”

The Challenges of an Over-Fifty Divorce

Despite the apparent happiness of those who divorce later in life, there remain certain stumbling blocks along the way. These can include health concerns, being responsible for aging parents, supporting children in college, being closer to retirement and the loss of friends and family. The trend away from spousal maintenance still leaves many women in a precarious financial position. Women in this age group who chose to support their husband’s career path while raising children could find they are woefully unprepared for the workforce. The resume’ gap can make it difficult to return to a prior career and the women in this age group may feel uncomfortable with the idea of returning to college.

Retirement Pension Issues

Retirement planning for both men and women can also take a serious hit when a divorce occurs at this point in the marriage. A separate court order known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to properly cover the division of retirement benefits is highly recommended. Both parties will need to know such things as whether distributions can be received without tax penalties, whether a spouse has taken any loans against a 401(k), whether hardship withdrawals are possible and whether there are survivor benefits if the ex-spouse dies after the divorce.

Social Security Benefits

Those who were married longer than ten years, who are 62 years or older, can collect retirement benefits on their former spouse’s Social Security record after the divorce without reducing the spouse’s benefits. Once divorced for at least two years, benefits are available through the former spouse even if that former spouse is eligible but not yet receiving benefits. Should a former spouse die following the divorce, the survivor may be eligible for survivor benefits of 100% of the former spouse’s Social Security benefits, so long as the marriage lasted ten years or more, the survivor is at least 60 years of age and is not entitled to retirement benefits equal or greater than those of the former spouse.

Keeping the Marital Home

In many cases the over-fifty spouse who retains the marital home may receive considerable benefits such as eligibility for real estate property tax exemptions and waivers, eligibility of a reverse mortgage, special treatment for those qualifying for governmental benefits , deductions of mortgage interest and taxes, and access to equity even if the decision is later made to downsize. It is important to discuss these issues with your attorney before you make decisions which could have repercussions for many years to come.

We Believe We Can Help You Through Your Divorce

If you are in the over-fifty age group and have made the decision to divorce, you need advice from a highly experienced divorce attorney who keeps your best interests uppermost in the equation at all times. Matthew S. Poole is such an attorney. Matthew has a sterling reputation and always fights for the rights of his clients. The Law Offices of Matthew Poole have the experience, the resources and the compassion to help those going through a divorce. We understand this is a difficult time and will do everything in our power to make it easier. We offer reasonable rates as well as lower case load, ensuring you will always receive personal attention and your phone calls will be answered. Call (601) 573-7429 to set up an appointment to discuss your individual circumstances.

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