In this day and age, it is becoming more common for senior citizens to divorce—after many decades of marriage, in some cases. While the causes are numerous, divorcing at an older age can have challenges that younger couples often do not experience. If an older couple is not adequately prepared for some of the particular questions that may arise, significant issues may present themselves.
Pensions and Other Benefits
One major question that most younger couples do not have to deal with is how to divide a pension or Social Security funds. If a couple has been married for 10 years or longer, and one or both are over the age of 62, spouses can draw on each other’s Social Security benefits, depending on whose work record is longer. Pensions are divided using Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which apportion a certain percentage of one spouse’s earned retirement benefits to the other. While this is rather common, it can still cause issues, given that one spouse’s retirement money is essentially cut in half. Budgets may need reworking, and estate planning instruments may require an update.
Social Security disability or retirement, meanwhile, is apportioned somewhat differently than private retirement funds. If you have not remarried, and your marriage lasted more than 10 years, you are entitled to collect Social Security based on your ex-spouse’s work record if you would otherwise qualify for it and if the benefit you would receive based on your work record would be less than that based on your spouse’s record. You may be entitled to both, depending on the terms of your divorce decree and any other documents you have executed, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Either way, it can be difficult to adjust to what will almost certainly be a new standard of living.
Divorce and Estate Planning
Older couples must also ensure that all estate planning instruments are up to date, including wills, trusts, and insurance policies. While many couples write wills leaving their estates to each other, Illinois law contains a provision which strips any gift or bequest to a former spouse after a declaration of dissolution of marriage. This can lead to uncertainty and delays if no other beneficiaries are named in place of the ex-spouse.
Enlist a Knowledgeable Attorney
Divorce later in life is becoming more and more common, and as such, being prepared is critical. If you have questions or need assistance, consider consulting an experienced divorce lawyer. The skilled Kane County divorce attorneys at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. can try and help you find resources and determine the best approach for you. Contact us today to set up an appointment.