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Divorcing during your senior years: What do you need to know?

If you and your spouse wish to obtain a "gray divorce" in Montana, there are several considerations you both need to make before you file. Though you may not have to deal with child custody, which is often the most contested aspect of any divorce, your situation may present unique challenges with which younger divorcing couples do not have to deal. 

According to U.S. News, Bowling Green State University sociologists performed a study regarding the phenomenon that is "gray divorce." What they found was that the divorce rate for those aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, and that 48 percent of divorcees in this category were in their first marriages. The way in which judges treat divorces after 30 to 40 years of marriage is far different than how they treat divorces after five to 10 years of matrimony.

For instance, save for in a select few states, judges do not award alimony as freely as they once did, and most will not award permanent alimony to younger individuals. If a judge does award alimony in cases involving younger persons, he or she typically does so to allow the lower earning spouse an opportunity to get back on his or her feet. However, it is a different situation entirely for long-term marriages.

If you or your spouse still works at the time of your divorce, the judge will likely order the working party to pay permanent alimony. This is especially true if you or your spouse did not work at all during the union.

Another consideration you and your spouse must make is in regard to retirement. It does not matter if you plan to file for a fault divorce. If your marriage lasted for 20 years or more, anticipate that the judge will split your retirement funds 50/50.

A final consideration you and your spouse should discuss is the family home. If you balk at the idea of giving up your home, just know that if the judge does award it to you, he or she may award a greater share of assets or retirement savings to your spouse.

The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice.  

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Cunningham Law Office is a family law-focused firm in Missoula, Montana. We serve Missoula, Ravalli County, and the surrounding area.