North Carolina residents may know that the divorce rate in the United States surged in the 1970s and 1980s before it leveled off in the 1990s and began to fall. However, they may be surprised to learn that the divorce rate for those over the age of 50 continued to climb and actually doubled between 1990 and 2010. Negotiating a divorce settlement that takes their future needs into consideration becomes increasingly important for spouses when their retirement years are looming, and poverty statistics indicate that women who divorce after the age of 50 may be particularly vulnerable.
Sociologists call the phenomenon gray divorce, and it is often women who are faced with the prospect of looking for work after spending decades raising children that struggle to cope with its financial aftermath. Only 11 percent of the men who divorce after reaching the age of 50 go on to fall into poverty, but that percentage more than doubles to 27 percent for gray divorced women.
The Social Security Administration has provisions in place to protect the interests of divorced spouses who sacrificed their careers for a family, and experts say that spouses over the age of 50 who are facing the end of a marriage should learn about these provisions as well as other financial arrangements like retirement plans and insurance policies. Having traces of an independent life in place, such as a separate bank account or credit card, can also help older spouses by preparing them emotionally for their post-divorce lives.
Experienced family law attorneys may be particularly focused during property division and alimony discussions when their clients are nearing their retirement years, and they could also take SSA rules into consideration when developing their negotiating strategies in these situations. Attorneys may also recommend that their clients avoid the risk of potentially ruinous litigation by negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement.