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Divorce After Retirement: Issues That Older Couples Experience During Divorce

Upset elderly coupleWhile every divorce is different and requires the couple to navigate complex financial and custody issues, divorce after retirement can be particularly complicated. Divorce after retirement, also known as silver divorce or gray divorce, is growing in popularity over time. A report from the Pew Research Center found that, in 2017, the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 has more than doubled since the 1990s. For adults 65 and older, the rate tripled from 1990 to 2015. What are the unique obstacles older couples face when divorcing?

Social Security Changes

For many seniors, social security is a critical source of income, and divorce can affect the payments you receive. If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer, you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record, even if they have remarried. You are entitled to these benefits if you are unmarried, 62 or older, and your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits.


If you have no children or all of your children are adults and no longer at home, there will probably be no need for child support. However, alimony can still be a factor in divorce after retirement, especially if one spouse stayed at home to care for children and the other earned most household income.

Sell or Keep the Home

As with other divorces, you will need to decide whether or not to keep or sell the shared family home. In divorce after retirement, deciding who will stay in the home, if anyone, can be very contentious. Both parties have many memories in the space, and moving at the age of 65 or older can be very arduous. A skilled mediator can assist with negotiating these situations.

Estate Planning

Older couples need to consider what will happen to their estates after death. Based on your assets and any agreements you come to, there is a good chance you will need to complete a new will to reflect your updated assets and beneficiaries.

Retirement Benefits

Another critical concern during a divorce after retirement is what will happen to retirement benefits. In Maryland, as of the date of your marriage, all retirement accounts are considered marital property. During a divorce, the court may choose from one of three common methods to divide up those assets:

  1. Equal to the employee contributions plus interest accrued
  2. The “present value” of future benefits that will be received after retirement by a spouse who is still working (if one is retired and the other is not)
  3. A percentage to be paid to the spouse that was not an employee from future retirement payments that were payable “as, if and when” received

Get Help with Your Divorce After Retirement with Lebovitz Law

Whether you are preparing to file for divorce in Maryland or looking to create a parenting plan that works for you, Lebovitz Law can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.

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