DIVORCE FOR SENIORS
Dissolving a Long Term Marriage
More seniors are ignoring ‘till death do us part’ and filing for divorce after decades of marriage. Since Arizona is a community property state, divorce presents many financial problems. It is best to examine all the options before taking the final step of dissolving your marriage.
Since you’ve been married for many years, the odds are good that you and your spouse hold a great deal of joint property. Arizona is going to divide that property in half, which will have a ripple effect. It’s going to change your tax status, and alter any future bequests you made in your will. If you have adult children, both of you will have to rewrite your wills. Suppose you had a child who will receive a special needs trust upon your decease. The trust may have to be restructured.
And the list just gets longer and longer. Arizona divorce petitions contain a clause that notifies your health insurer of a change in your marital status. That means either you or your spouse may have to get a new Medicare, if you have opted to be covered under your spouse’s plan. You will have to change the beneficiary on your pension plan, or IRA if you named your spouse as beneficiary.
Separation or Divorce?
You may consider a separation instead of a divorce. It won’t dissolve the marriage, and gives both parties time to think about their situation. The ‘Golden Years’ aren’t so golden if you have spent years fighting with your partner, and can’t stand the thought of spending any more time with them. On the other hand, it is a drastic change, in your lifestyle, and you ought to get expert counseling before filing a divorce petition.
Most Arizona family lawyers have a support staff to handle every aspect of divorce. You need advice about the legal, financial, and emotional impact of dissolving your marriage. A good financial counselor is essential—you must know how divorce affects your taxes and future estate. If your spouse is in poor health, you might pay more in spousal support than you would if you remained married. Distribution of joint property may exclude you from certain governmental benefits.
“Keep Calm and Carry On”
Any senior thinking about divorce should remain calm, and consult with objective professionals before taking action. Dissolving a marriage has many consequences, and only a family lawyer can keep you informed about your rights and remedies. Do not attempt to represent yourself, or get a quickie divorce, even if your spouse promises not to contest it. Promises can be easily broken, especially when it comes time to reply to a divorce petition. You’d be much better off to let a lawyer handle the entire matter. They can advise you on every phase of the divorce, and help you withdraw, should you change your mind.
You did spend many years with your spouse, and at this point, there is no need to waste time fighting with each other. Let lawyers negotiate a fair settlement, which minimizes the impact on both parties.