People often think of divorce in the context of young couples still adjusting to the concept of marriage or kids, or finding that the spouse they thought they knew before they were married is a different person entirely. However, divorce has become an increasingly common situation for couples later in life, after children are grown and many years have passed. Such late-life divorces, as they have been termed, bring with them a host of unique challenges, including dividing up a lifetime of assets. Late-life divorce can also have a significant impact on retirement prospects. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, Milwaukee divorce lawyer Terese J. Singer has worked with people in many areas of Wisconsin who are parting ways with a spouse later in life. She can help them evaluate the implications of divorce after decades of marriage and co-mingling of finances.Evaluating Assets in a Late-Life Divorce
For couples who have been married for two or three decades, or more, dividing up assets during the Wisconsin divorce process is rarely an easy endeavor. Older couples are likely to not only have a home, cars, and savings accounts to evaluate, but also they may have vacation or investment properties, retirement and stock accounts, and possibly even shared business assets that must be valued. Thus, an important first step in a late-life divorce is to go through a detailed and thorough accounting of all the marital property that a couple may possess. For instance, it is important to remember pension or savings programs from former employers, life insurance policies that may have been taken out decades before, and valuable family heirlooms that may have a special sentimental value.
Additionally, certain assets take on unique values with age. For instance, a primary residence may become more than simply a roof over one’s head or a place of valuable memories. Older couples may have access to reverse mortgage streams of income through their home, and they may also receive special benefits and qualifications through Medicare for having a primary residence. These types of incentives should not be overlooked when determining how to divide up property.Considering Retirement
For people approaching, or past, retirement age, the division of retirement savings and assets is particularly important in a divorce. Often, the individual accounts held by couples may not accurately reflect the work and time put into a marriage. For instance, a wife who raised children for a decade or two may have less in a retirement account than her husband. Thus, the total amount of retirement and pension plans needs to be evaluated and carefully divided.
Retirement plans cannot easily be divided. They typically require a court to enter a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) that specifically directs the division of such assets. When dealing with pension plans, such orders must carefully comply with the requirements of ERISA. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you in drafting a qualified domestic relations order that will be recognized and enforced by the court, while also complying with the federal directives of ERISA.Discuss a Late-Life Divorce with a Milwaukee Lawyer
Dissolving a marriage is not an easy process, and as one ages it often becomes more difficult. Finding a Milwaukee divorce lawyer who understands the unique concerns that arise during the division of retirement assets can help you avoid being overcome by the legal difficulties of divorce and focus instead on forging a strong future. At Reddin & Singer, LLP, family law attorney Terese J. Singer is committed to bringing peace of mind to Wisconsin residents in this stressful situation. She can represent people in Milwaukee, Racine, Mequon, Port Washington, West Bend, Waukesha, and other communities throughout Racine, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, and Milwaukee Counties. Contact our office at (414) 271-6400 or complete our online form to set up a free consultation.