Seniors Face Special Challenges in a Divorce

American seniors are getting divorced at a greater rate than at any time in the past, and there are special concerns for people over 50-years-old considering divorce.

The United States already leads the world in divorce rates, with approximately 50 percent of marriages ending in divorce. Now baby boomers are divorcing at a much greater rate, accounting for one out of every four divorces in 2009, the last year for which data is available. That represents a 15 percent increase since 1990. Florida is particularly affected by the increase, as many people retire to the state.

Researchers have found that people who have already been divorced once are 2.5 times more likely to be divorced again than people in first-time marriages.

The reasons for the increase in divorce among older couples are not entirely clear, but researchers have speculated that they include greater social acceptance of divorce and greater financial independence among women.

Any divorce is difficult, but seniors have particular life circumstances that affect them differently than younger couples. For one thing, older people are often planning carefully for retirement and expecting to rely on two sets of assets and income. This type of planning often involves a balance of retirees’ own assets, including a 401(k), combined with Social Security benefits and health care savings from Medicare. When those resources are split instead of combined, and either or both spouses has reached the end of a working career, serious financial hardship can result.

Divorce can be one of the most trying emotional experiences, and it is important to be sure that both parties take a clear-headed approach to financial planning, including creating a budget that takes into account reduced funds. Of course, each party should have the counsel of an experienced family law attorney to be sure that assets are divided fairly.

When people have been married for a longer period, there are often more assets to divide in a divorce. This may include savings, real estate, stocks and other investments.

In the state of Florida, property in a divorce is assigned according to “equitable distribution,” which calls for assets to be divided proportionally. A divorce settlement can include alimony, which may be more appropriate in some cases than a lump sum payment.

In addition to the financial aspects, a qualified family law attorney can assist in the preparation and review of new legal documents such as wills, insurance policies and healthcare directives.

O. Reginald (“Reggie”) Osenton is the Owner and President of Osenton Law Offices, P.A. If you need a Brandon divorce lawyer, Tampa divorce lawyer, or Tampa divorce attorney, call 813.654.5777 or visit