It is not uncommon for a married couple to spend the first 25 to 30 years of their life together working and saving money to enjoy in retirement. Over the course of their lifetime, spouses often invest money in stocks, 401K plans, education plans, pension plans, real estate, and other investment opportunities. Ideally, the couple will have an opportunity to enjoy the results of their labor in retirement together. But an interesting phenomenon is taking place. A large percentage of the baby boom generation is seeking to divorce, resulting in some unexpected financial consequences. If you are considering a separation or divorce at any stage of your life, it is extremely important to protect your financial interests, including any investments. You are encouraged to contact an experienced family law lawyer, someone who understands the local divorce laws in Maryland.
According to a recent article, since divorce among people age 50 and older is so widespread, it is becoming known as a “gray divorce.” The author points out that divorce for this age bracket raises several unique concerns involving how each spouse will retire now that the so-called “nest egg” must be split in two. For instance, in a typical divorce, Maryland law allows for the periodic payment of alimony to one spouse. The ultimate goal of alimony is to give the “supported spouse” an opportunity to become self-supporting. When a court awards alimony, it is intended to be “rehabilitative alimony” for an allotted period of time to enable a dependent spouse to become self-supporting.
But in a “gray divorce,” unless the couple has accumulated a great deal of wealth, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for one spouse to continue supporting the other on a fixed income of Social Security and other benefits. Unfortunately, when this happens, couples may not be able to continue living in the same lifestyle to which they had become accustomed during the marriage. Another issue concerns the availability of health insurance. As people wind down their careers, they tend to have less disposable income to spend on health care, and instead they may rely on one spouse’s employment benefits. When an older couple chooses to divorce, most health insurance plans will not continue to cover both parties. These are all very real concerns for older Americans who are reported to be divorcing at an “unprecedented rate.”
At least in Maryland, the family law code operates to allow courts to identify and value marital property in order to equitably distribute interests between the divorcing spouses. According to Section 8-205, the court may transfer property rights or issue a monetary award, or both, after considering a variety of factors, including (but not limited to): the contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each party to the well-being of the family; the value of all the property interests of each party; the economic circumstances of each party at the time the award is to be made; the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties; the duration of the marriage; the age of each party; and the physical and mental condition of each party.
No matter which age you are at the moment of divorce, it is vitally important that you seek to protect your legal and financial rights. An experienced family law attorney can help you do that in an efficient and timely manner. Anthony A. Fatemi is a Maryland family law attorney with experience representing parties in divorce and related matters. For representation and legal guidance, you can contact Mr. Fatemi at (888) 519-2801 or (301) 519-2801.
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