Late-Life Divorce

New York City Attorney Counseling Aging Spouses in Family Law Matters

Older Couple Divorcing late in life may affect your financial plans for retirement and leave you with little time to prepare. Accordingly, it is important to protect your interests in marital property and understand your legal rights and obligations regarding financial support. If you are considering a late-life divorce, New York City divorce attorney Ingrid Gherman can provide practical advice and develop a financial arrangement that meets your needs. Ms. Gherman approaches each case with experience and compassion, recognizing issues that frequently arise in late-life divorces as well as accounting for the unique situation of each client who seeks her assistance.

Issues to Consider in a Late-Life Divorce

Property division is often a central issue in a late-life divorce. Married couples tend to amass a significant amount of real and personal property, assets, and savings, as well as debt, throughout the course of their life and a long-term marriage. If the parties do not have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement and cannot resolve their financial disputes outside court, these matters will be decided by the court. Marital property consists of most assets acquired during the marriage, regardless of single or joint title. New York is an equitable distribution state, and, therefore, the court determines a fair apportionment of the couple’s marital property after evaluating many statutory factors. Relevant factors that the court must consider in a late-life divorce include the age of the spouses, the duration of the marriage, any loss of pension rights, and any award of spousal maintenance.

The distribution of retirement assets typically requires a careful consideration of tax implications, an evaluation of various methods of division and disposition, and a court order. In general, the amount of retirement benefits earned during the marriage is considered marital property subject to equitable distribution, although the parties can exchange their retirement interests for other assets of similar value.

A person’s interest in their spouse’s employer-sponsored defined benefit or defined contribution retirement plan may be transferred pursuant to a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). A QDRO should be obtained at the time of the divorce and submitted immediately to the plan administrator, even if the spouse is not yet collecting benefits. Social Security income is also an important consideration for a couple getting divorced later in life. If the marriage lasted 10 years or longer, each spouse is eligible for one-half of the other spouse’s Social Security benefits, as long as the spouse claiming the benefits has not remarried, and all of the requirements are met. These details can be explained fully by a divorce attorney who is familiar with all of the facts in your situation.

Either spouse may request an award of post-divorce maintenance, formerly known as alimony, pursuant to a court order or written agreement. Post-divorce maintenance paid for only a fixed amount of time is known as durational maintenance, while non-durational maintenance is paid for the lifetime of the recipient spouse.

For divorces filed after 2016, post-divorce maintenance is derived by using statutory mathematical formulas. If no child support order is in place, the calculation is based entirely on the income of each spouse from all sources, subject to a maximum cap. To determine the duration of maintenance, the court follows advisory guidelines based on the number of years of marriage. These calculations may seem technical and rigid, but the court does have discretion to adjust the post-divorce maintenance obligation if it finds that applying the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. In late-life divorces, the age and health of the parties, their present and future earning capacity, and their level of participation in the workforce are just some of the factors that a court may consider in adjusting a statutory obligation.

Hire a Compassionate Family Law Attorney in New York City

Ending a marriage late in life can undermine your sense of financial security, but addressing your concerns with a divorce attorney may relieve some of the uncertainty. With more than 35 years of legal experience, New York City lawyer Ingrid Gherman can anticipate issues that arise in late-life divorce cases and guide you through the proceedings. Ms. Gherman has handled complex divorces for residents of Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as people in Westchester, Orange, Nassau, Rockland, and Suffolk Counties. Arrange a free consultation regarding a late-life divorce by completing our online contact form or calling (212) 941-0767.