Just because a divorce doesn’t involve children doesn’t mean it’s not complicated. Just ask any of the growing number of Baby Boomers who are filing for divorce. According to one study, about a quarter of all divorces in 2008 involved couples older than 50, as opposed to just 10 percent of divorces in 1990.
Chances are, by the time couples are in their 50s, the kids are grown and, hopefully, out of college. So while that does remove one big bone of contention between warring spouses, it doesn’t take care of the second-biggest area of dispute: money. And with retirement looming, the issue of financial security takes on added urgency.
That’s why it’s so crucial for divorcing spouses to have qualified advisers during this process-and not just lawyers (though having a lawyer who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization is an absolute must). A tax adviser, a business valuation specialist (if a business is involved), and a financial planner could all play an important role. Your divorce lawyer should have be able to provide several referrals if you need them.
Some important things to keep in mind:
Asset division: Texas is a community property state, but that doesn’t mean that the property division is 50/50. The court will attempt to divide the assets in a way that is fair and equitable. If one spouse earns significantly less than the other, it is highly likely that the lesser-earning spouse will receive significantly more than 50 percent of the marital estate at the time of the divorce.
Retirement finances: This includes retirement accounts, pension plans and Social Security. Even after divorce, in many cases, ex-spouses can receive their former spouse’s Social Security benefits.
Alimony: Texas has extremely limited alimony in very limited circumstances . If your case fits one of those circumstances, your attorney should be able to help you maximize (or minimize, depending on which side you’re on) alimony benefits.
Life insurance: Even after divorce, a former spouse can be a beneficiary of an ex-spouse’s life insurance.
Health insurance: COBRA can provide health insurance for several months after divorce, but it’s advisable to look for new coverage long before COBRA runs out. Particularly as the insured gets older, health insurance gets significantly more expensive, so it’s smart to get that taken care of as early as possible, particularly if there are significant health problems present.
Many divorcing couples are in such a hurry to get the divorce over with that they rush through the process and give up or sign away important benefits that could provide them with financial security in their old age. For the sake of your (and your children’s) well-being, don’t give in to that temptation.