The unique challenges of late-life divorce in Florida

Couples divorcing later in life may find themselves facing uncertain finances and social upheaval.

Divorce is rarely easy, but the fact remains that some divorces are more difficult than others. When a young couple, together for only a short time, with few joint assets and no children together split up, their divorce will likely be relatively straightforward. They will file for a dissolution of their marriage, there will be an equitable distribution of the couple's property and debts (pursuant to Section 61.075 of the Florida statutes governing divorce), there may or may not be an order for spousal support/alimony, the couple will wait for the divorce to be finalized, and then they will go their separate ways.

By contrast, when a couple has been married 10, 20, 30 years or more, there are significantly more entanglements. Each of these will make divorce more complicated. Add into the mix the fact that, according to a landmark research study conducted by sociologists at Bowling Green State University, the divorce rate for the age 50 and older demographic has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and you can understand why this delicate legal tightrope needs to be traversed by a skilled family law attorney like those at The Law Offices of Elkins & Freedman.

Unique circumstances

There are several ways in which a late-life divorce can be more complicated than that of a younger couple. For example, older spouses can have significant retirement accounts and pension assets to consider. While younger couples often have these accounts, they must be handled exactingly for older couples since there is little time to recoup any losses or offset any tax consequences before retirement age. In fact, retirement plans may be derailed altogether for older people if careful planning isn't done at the time of the divorce.

Another way in which late-life or so-called "gray" divorces can be more complex is the issue of alimony. When spouses have been married for only a short time, alimony isn't always appropriate. Should the marriage last decades, however, and one spouse has stayed home to run the household in furtherance of the other's career goals, some spousal support is usually warranted. Even though Florida law guides judges making alimony awards, the process is still complex, and sometimes people might assume they don't want or need alimony even if it is actually in their best financial interests to request it.

Of course, there are many more things to consider when you are ending a long-term marriage than can be covered here. That is why, regardless of how long you have been married, you likely have questions and concerns if you are thinking of divorce. Speaking with an experienced Florida family law attorney at the Law Offices of Elkins & Freedman can put your mind at ease, allowing you to focus on the important issues at hand and start the next chapter of your life with confidence.

Keywords: divorce, late-life divorce, gray divorce, alimony, spousal support, property division, retirement benefits, pension