Senior Couple Divorce

Divorcing Later in Life

Law Offices of Fisher Wise June 21, 2022

Divorce is very common these days—but when it happens to you, it’s easy to feel like you’re going through it alone and it can be hard to see a better future ahead. There were over 22,000 divorces in the state of Tennessee in 2020 according to the state’s Department of Health, and each one of these couples knows what it’s like to drastically restructure their lives. Divorce can happen to any of us, but there are special considerations when divorcing later in life that you may not be aware of.

If you’re going through a “silver divorce” and would like to speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Tennessee, call me at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise. From my office in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I can help clients in neighboring cities like Red Bank, East Ridge, or Soddy-Daisy as well as Marion County, Rhea County, Sequatchie County, and the rest of the state.

Common Reasons People Divorce

Later in Life

Older couples choose to divorce for many of the same reasons a younger couple might, but there are some factors that figure uniquely into a gray divorce. One of the common reasons for divorcing later in life is feeling like an empty-nester after the children have finally moved out. Couples may have been staying together for the kids and only now realize they don’t have much in common anymore. 

Other times, retirement can prompt a divorce. If both spouses were working full time and are now home all day together, it’s not uncommon that they quickly grow tired of one another.

Lastly, there may be specific stressors in the lives of older couples such as age-related illnesses or disabilities or having to take care of aging parents in your home. These pressures can add a considerable amount of strain to a relationship and lead to divorce.

Things to Consider

Although all divorcing couples have to address similar issues, there are particular things to consider if you’re divorcing over the age of 50. One of the most common concerns is how to divide assets. At this point in life, you’ve likely accumulated many assets either on your own or as a couple, and you’ll need to determine which of these are marital. This will also apply to splitting non-tangible property like retirement accounts, life insurance, and social security payments. Tennessee is an equitable distribution state, which means that assets should be split fairly between the two spouses. However, if you’ve been acquiring assets for decades, this can get complex, and a good family law attorney can help you make sense of it all.

Another big concern couples may face is regarding alimony. Alimony is never automatically awarded, but can be if one spouse needs more support post-divorce than the other. This comes up frequently in cases in which one spouse was the primary breadwinner and the other didn't make a traditional income (such as staying home to be a parent or homemaker). Typically, alimony is paid until the other spouse can obtain employment to support themselves, but if the spouse is older, they may not be able to find work. Or, age-related disabilities may bar them from being able to earn an income at all. In these cases, alimony may have to be paid for the rest of the spouse’s life.

Gray Divorce Mistakes to Avoid

If you’re over 50, you’ll want to look out for a few common pitfalls when divorcing. For example, holding onto assets like the family home may seem favorable now, but it could turn into a burden down the road. Similarly, other assets should be carefully analyzed with an attorney as well as a financial planner to ensure your needs will be met when you retire (or will continue to be met if you're already retired). This includes looking at pensions, IRAs, and insurance plans and considering the tax implications as you age. The best thing you can do for yourself is to work with a family law attorney who can advise you every step of the way so you can avoid these common mistakes when divorcing later in life.

Skilled Legal Counsel

If you’re in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area and would like to speak to an attorney about your divorce, reach out to me at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise. Divorce can be a hard road to go down, but you don’t have to walk it alone. Call me today to get started.