Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question ” Is there some property that the judge cannot divide?”
It used to be that if a couple made it far enough down the road of marriage, they’d be especially likely to stick it out, literally, until death forced their parting. A quarter century ago, just ten-percent of divorces in the United States involved divorcees who were over the age of 50. Now that figure is 40 percent, according to researchers at Bowling Green State University. That amounts to more than 600,000 divorces involving over-50 divorcees in 2010 alone.
Many couples—or perhaps one-half of couples—know they want a divorce long before taking the proverbial plunge. One 53-year-old divorcee, interviewed by Yahoo Finance, said she knew she wanted to get divorced years ago, when her 19-year-old daughter was still a toddler. Her daughter required day-to-day medical care, and the woman did not believe she could care for her on her own. She waited until her husband retired so that she could collect some of his pension.
Divorcing late—or later—in life raises some unique issues for potential divorcees. Certified planner Jean Ann Dorrell cautions those nearing or passing the half-century age to consider the challenging financial and other issues such divorcees may face.
One common issue is who gets the house? Many young couples may not own real estate; many older couples do. An investment in real estate is usually a couple’s largest, and the investment involves more than numbers. It is a home where children may have been raised, where the best (and worst) of times may have occurred, where someone has fled for years for comfort from the so-called slings and arrows of life. Can a couple facing divorce work together to sell the house and divide the proceeds? If one spouse decides to let the other spouse keep the house, who pays the mortgage? These are issues that need to be addressed.
Next, when assets are “equitably” divided, how can couples avoid triggering tax penalties when dividing or paying over shares of retirement assets? In general, those considering a divorce need to develop a strategy—usually with the assistance of counsel—to carefully analyze the manner in which funds from retirement plans will be divided. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, if approved and issued by a judge, can protect divorcing couples from potential tax penalties.
Debt, like assets, is divisible among parties to a divorce, and working with legal and financial professionals to ensure your interests are protected in a divorce is crucial. No divorcee wants to be stuck with debt payments on an asset whose benefit the divorcee is no longer entitled to enjoy.
Finally, older divorcees are more likely than younger and healthier counterparts to need and use their health insurance. If a spouse is covered under a husband’s or wife’s plan during marriage, the spouse needs to make sure that some kind of insurance is in place during and after the divorce proceedings. Couples with limited options for dealing with this problem may consider separation in lieu of divorce until they can determine the best solution for their circumstances.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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