The number of couples getting divorced who are over the age of 65 is growing and there are unique circumstances to be aware of when getting divorced at that point in your life. The following are three issues to know when getting divorced when you are 65 or older:
1) All retirement accounts will be equally divided between the parties. Often in a marriage, one party has more retirement savings than the other party. Many people incorrectly think that retirement accounts are “untouchable” in a divorce and that the money saved in one person’s individual name cannot be divided with the other spouse. Unfortunately, that thinking is incorrect. In Ohio, generally all assets, including retirement accounts, that have been acquired during the parties’ marriage will be equally divided. This is an important issue to be aware of and a potential challenge to face if you suddenly no longer have half of your retirement savings.
2) Another factor to consider is the payment of spousal support. Many people who are getting divorced and who are over the age of 65 have been in long term marriages. In a long term marriage, a Court will most likely make a “lifetime” award of spousal support. This means that one party will be paying spousal support to the other party for the remainder of his/her lifetime. The obligation to pay spousal support remains true even if someone is retired and the only source of income is Social Security, pension, etc.
3) For many couples 65 or older, their home is one of their largest assets. In a divorce, the fair market value of a house must be included in any division of assets. This often means that a house will be sold and the proceeds will be equally divided. Alternatively, if one party wants to remain in the home, that spouse can “buy-out” their partner’s equal share of the home equity. Addressing the house and what will happen with it is a big factor to consider in any divorce.
Please contact TLG with your questions and concerns about getting divorced in retirement.