Dealing with a divorce can be especially difficult for someone in a long-term marriage . Studies show that men over 65 are divorcing at double the rate of the 1980s and women are divorcing at triple their former rate. In fact, 5% of all divorces in this country are “gray divorces.” Along with the usual splitting of assets that all divorcing couples face, older couples have some unique challenges.
Why Divorce After Decades Together in a Long-Term Marriage?
Older couples have often experienced many significant events together. Some couples grow closer through these life milestones, while others drift apart. With a longer life expectancy, a person in his or her mid-sixties most likely has at least a couple of decades ahead. That can be a long time if an individual is dissatisfied with his or her marriage.
Leaving a Long-Term Marriage
Alimony agreements are frequently short-term for young divorcees who agree that financial support is necessary while one spouse gets an education or a firm footing in the working world. For older divorcees, alimony may be awarded for life. Another significant factor to consider is that retirement funds and pensions will likely be evenly divided. The marriage home may be sold and the money split between partners, or one partner may retain the home and give up something else. California is a community property state, so any assets accrued during the marriage will be split equally.
Another important consideration is health insurance. If one partner is covered by the other’s health insurance, it is critical that no gaps in coverage occur. When the divorce is finalized, your spouse’s employer can no longer cover you, even if minor children are covered. Luckily, COBRA coverage may be available if your spouse works for an employer with 20 or more employees. Eligibility depends on notification within 60 days of the divorce, so it is critical that you contact the provider quickly. This coverage lasts only 36 months, so it is important to become familiar with other options if necessary. If a spouse worked for a smaller company, Cal-Cobra is available. Although slightly more expensive and available for just 18 months, it is an option for some former dependent spouses.
Because men often earn much more money during the course of a career, social security benefits may be based on the man’s earnings rather than the woman’s work record. When a marriage has lasted at least 10 years, a woman may be able to enjoy benefits from her former spouse’s work record. The benefits end upon remarriage. If a person is at least 62 years old and is remarried, and the second spouse dies, that person may claim benefits from the first spouse (if the marriage lasted 10 years or more) or from the second spouse (if the marriage lasted 9 months or more prior to the death). Continue reading →