While the realization that your marriage was facing irreconcilable issues may have caught you off guard, you were also undoubtedly determined to cope with your circumstances in a practical, healthy manner so you could do what you needed to do and move on in life. Divorce isn’t easy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to ruin your entire life, even after a marriage of 20 years or more.
If you’re filing for divorce in a Texas court at age 55 or beyond, you’re definitely not alone in your experiences. In fact, so many people in your age group are doing the same that the term “gray divorce” now refers to spouses who decide to go their own ways later in life. There are three issues that may be particularly relevant to older spouses who file for divorce.
Were you covered under your spouse’s health insurance?
If you’ve been dependent on your spouse for health insurance, then this issue may be of great importance to you when you finalize a divorce. Many people who divorce later in life wind up facing severe financial distress, which may include lack of health insurance coverage. If your spouse’s insurance covered you, then your coverage will end when you settle your divorce.
It’s critical to think ahead and have a plan in mind regarding health insurance and other financial issues. Perhaps, you have been out of the workforce for many years because you sacrificed a career to stay home and raise your family. This issue, then, may be of great significance as you build an independent lifestyle, especially because it is not uncommon to develop adverse health issues as the aging process progresses.
Texas is a community property state
Property division proceedings will be part of your divorce. Texas is one of only nine states throughout the country that operates under community property guidelines for division of marital assets in divorce. This means that a judge overseeing your case would typically split all marital property 50/50 between you and your ex.
Because you’re divorcing at an older age, it may be challenging to identify marital property from assets you may separately own because you acquired them before marriage. It’s not uncommon for spouses who have been married for several decades to comingle their funds, which, in a gray divorce, can complicate asset division.
Social Security and retirement benefits issues may also be key factors
When you file for divorce at age 55 or older, it’s likely that issues regarding retirement benefits or Social Security may be a central focus of your settlement. If you are at an age where you’re already eligible to collect Social Security, the court must determine a portion to which you and your ex are each entitled to receive. The court typically splits retirement benefits, as well, in a gray divorce.
Seek clarification of Texas laws ahead of time
Property division guidelines vary by state. Issues such as Social Security, however, come under federal law categories. When your goal is to achieve as fair a settlement as possible so that you can financially provide for yourself after a late-life divorce, it’s important that you fully understand any and all regulations that may have an impact on your proceedings.
It’s always a good idea to seek clarification on all relevant legal issues so that you can protect your financial interests as you make plans for your future after divorce.