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Late in life divorce raises some challenges

Maryland couples who decide to get divorced later in life take on special challenges that can be unique. Many of these issues revolve around the fact that two people may have spent many years of their lives together, commingling their funds and planning to support each other through their golden years.

Getting a divorce when older is often referred to as a "late divorce" or "gray divorce." During such divorces, a unique topic that may arise is the spouse's right to retirement benefits. If the couple has been married for at least 10 years, the lower-earning party can claim Social Security benefits that are based upon the wage history of the higher-earning one. This can help those who stayed at home to raise a family instead of pursuing career opportunities. In addition, a qualified domestic relations order might be necessary in order to divide up certain retirement plans.

Another potential issue when an older couple is facing the end of a marriage is how to divide assets and liabilities in a fair manner. Older couples may hold assets that are of much greater value than their younger divorcing counterparts. Older spouses must also be careful to consider their realistic needs when it comes to their assets, such as keeping some liquid assets in case of a medical emergency.

Regardless of the couple's age or how long they have been married, a divorce can present other challenging legal issues as well, such as the payment of alimony. An attorney who is representing a divorcing client can often help to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that addresses these matters.

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