Late Life Divorce

Family Law Attorneys Advocating for Spouses in San Diego

Divorce is common, whether a marriage has lasted for five years or 50 years. But couples in their later years face some unique challenges in divorce. It is essential that older couples squarely confront the realities of how a divorce will affect them if they want to emerge from the divorce with a secure financial and emotional foundation for their old age.

If you are relatively late in life and need legal representation in regard to a divorce, the San Diego divorce lawyers at Doppelt and Forney, APLC can assist you. We can explain how a spousal support award, property division, and the other critical aspects of a divorce may affect you.

How is a Late-Life Divorce Different?

The reasons for a late-life divorce may be the same as any other divorce: infidelity, wanting more independence, growing alienation, and so on. But one issue that makes a late-life divorce different is how the financial status of each spouse will play out in the divorce and in succeeding years.

California is a community property state, which means that, in the absence of a prenuptial agreement to the contrary, the assets acquired by the couple during the marriage are generally marital assets subject to equal division, regardless of who earned the income used to acquire them. In a marriage of long duration, the chances are that all or most of the assets are marital assets; in addition, separate assets may be difficult to trace. While inheritances and gifts may be acquired during the marriage and therefore considered community property, this does not mean that they are divided equally.

All of these assets will need to be taken into account and valued, such as houses, personal property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and pensions. Once compiled, they must be divided equally in terms of value. While this seems easy, it can get complicated for couples who have acquired significant and varied assets over a long period, especially when the parties take into account the long-term advantages or disadvantages of any particular asset in terms of its depreciation, appreciation, liquidity, and tax ramifications. However, an attorney can explain how a certain asset is likely to be allocated in your situation.

When any marriage is dissolved, the income and assets that supported one household must suddenly support two—not just for housing but also for other expenditures, such as insurance, utility bills, and taxes.

For older spouses, a “nest egg,” once divided, may be insufficient to support either party at a level of comfort to which they have become accustomed or that they had anticipated in retirement.

This is consequential because it is much more difficult to make up the difference in lost income or assets when there are fewer years left to build or rebuild a financial foundation. And in cases in which only one spouse was the breadwinner during the marriage, it may be extremely difficult for the non-working spouse to enter the workforce and earn sufficient income to live without spousal support, unless the assets obtained in the divorce are considerable. This makes spousal support a critical issue in a late-life divorce.

However, while a non-earning spouse should secure adequate spousal support in a late-life divorce settlement, the provision of this support does not provide complete financial security, even if the support is permanent. A payee ex-spouse must consider the contingency that support may need to be replaced by something else if the payer ex-spouse retires, dies, or becomes incapacitated.

Couples contemplating a late-life divorce should also be aware of the emotional consequences. Even if both spouses wanted the divorce, they often find it difficult to cope with being alone and with having no one to help with even very simple things, such as mowing the lawn or shopping for groceries. Divorce may alter their long-standing relationships with adult children, grandchildren, other family members, and old friends; it may affect how and with whom they spend holidays and special occasions.

Contact a Knowledgeable Divorce Attorney in the San Diego Area

These are just some of the issues that can arise in late-life divorces. If you need information, advice, or assistance with a late-life divorce, contact one of the San Diego lawyers at Doppelt and Forney, APLC, for a free in-person or virtual consultation.

Call 800.769.4748 or contact us online. We serve residents of San Diego, Chula Vista, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, La Jolla, Point Loma, Coronado, Del Mar, Ramona, El Cajon, La Mesa, and surrounding communities.