Month June

  • Divorce Over 50

    June 15, 2012

    According to a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, while overall divorce rates have decreased, the divorce rate for those over 50 has doubled since 1990.  Even more startling is the fact that 60% of remarriages fail for those over 50.

    “Gray divorce” as it’s come to be known means that one of three baby-boomers will be single as they age.  A psychologist at the Fmaily Institute at Northwestern University calls late-life divorce an “epidemic.”  The consequences can be devastating .  Divorcing later in life makes it difficult to recoup the financial impact.  And many wives who have a limited work and earnings history will need to rely on only half of their spouse’s social security income.

    On average, 20% of widowed, divorced or never married women experience a high rate of poverty in their retirement years.  Older men do better financially, but not as well socially.  They often have difficulty recreating the social networks they enjoyed while married. 

    If you are divorced after a marriage of at least 10 years, you are permitted to claim social security based on your spouse’s wages if you are not entitled to a higher benefit based on your own work.  You can start taking social security at age 62 at a reduced rate, even if your former spouse waits until full retirement age.  There is no impact on the social security benefits of the higher earning spouse if the divorced spouse claims these benefits. 

    While there is no one solution to these problems, careful financial planing in a late-life divorce, along with a concern for the future welfare for both spouses, can lessen the financial hardship.  Instead of draining joint resources with a costly litigated divorce, couples over 50 would do well to consider Alternate Dispute Resolution — either mediation or Collaborative Divorce.  Both less costly and less emotionally draining than litigation, mediation and collaborative divorce take both parties’ needs into consideration.   

    For more information on Mediation and Collaborative Divorce, contact Risa A. Kleiner, Esq. at 609.951.2222 or by email at

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