The news that Al and Tipper Gore are divorcing after 40 years of marriage highlights some important considerations for those who divorce later in life. While the reasons for divorce may be the same as younger couples, the implications can be far different when it comes to dividing assets.
It is generally true that the older the couple, the more assets there are to divide. Florida is an equitable division state, which means that each spouse owns the property and income earned during the marriage. However, ownership is not the sole deciding factor when dividing property in a Florida divorce. A judge will usually assume that the property is to be divided fairly – and that doesn’t always mean equally.
Who gets the house takes on added meaning when a divorcing couple is older. The benefits for older people owning a home include tax exemptions and benefits, reverse mortgage eligibility and access to equity.
Dividing retirement assets can be more complicated for divorcing couples that are nearer retirement age. If any loans have been taken against a qualified retirement plan, those should be repaid before any settlement. You should consult with your divorce attorney to find out if and when any distributions can be taken without tax penalties, and if survivor benefits apply after the divorce.
In general, there is a greater need for careful financial planning when older couples divorce, so retaining a Florida law firm that has both family law and estate planning practices available to you may be worth considering.