How Does Your Age Factor into Your Divorce in New Jersey?

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Over the last fifteen years, the trend of older couples divorcing has become more common and, consequently, more socially acceptable. In New Jersey, the rate of divorce among individuals over the age of fifty has seen a marked increase, particularly for individuals sixty-five and older. Many of the more common divorce issues no longer remain for the majority of older individuals. By this time in their lives, couples have already resolved issues such as child custody, time-sharing, child support and those surrounding the raising of children. In their place, issues of alimony, equitable distribution and a myriad of other related late-in-life divorce questions remain vitally important for older couples preparing to divorce. For more information on how your age may affect your divorce, please continue reading, then contact an experienced Hackensack, New Jersey divorce lawyer. Some factors you will have to consider during a gray divorce include:

Your home

Typically, in cases where the couple jointly owns the marital home, the parties either buy out one another’s interest or sell the property to a third party. While you keep these options during a “gray divorce,” the parties often have the additional issue of one or both spouses:

  • Finding the marital home beyond their financial means
  • Needing or wanting to downsize

In addition to the sentimental value of the property, some litigants over the age of sixty-two may want to use it for some form of a reverse mortgage. This could complicate proceedings, especially where they concern estate planning.

Social Security

A gray divorce may, under certain circumstances, affect one or both spouses’ entitlement to Social Security benefits. Several factors determine one’s eligibility, including whether:

  • The marriage lasted for a minimum of ten years
  • Either spouse has since remarried
  • The spouses are sixty-two or older
  • Each spouse has the requisite employment history

Retirement accounts

In a divorce, the court will treat the following retirement accounts as marital property:

  • Pension plans
  • 401(k) plans
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

As marital property, these accounts are subject to New Jersey’s equitable distribution laws, which do not always result in a 50/50 split.

Health insurance

Once you finalize your divorce, your medical insurance coverage, if provided by your spouse, will end. You should be mindful and consider the increased cost of health insurance, especially if you are someone under the age of Medicare eligibility.

Estate planning

It is imperative you update your estate plan once you finalize your divorce. Failure to do so can potentially result in all or part of your estate going to your ex-spouse. Therefore, you should revoke your will and make a new one, leaving your property to the people you choose. In the course of making a new will, you should update beneficiary designations for the following items:

  • IRAs
  • 401(k) accounts
  • Life insurance policies
  • Pay-on-death bank accounts
  • Transfer-on-death brokerage accounts

Speak with a skilled New Jersey divorce lawyer if you have any questions not covered here or would like to begin preparation.

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