What Should Older Adults Know About The Divorce Process?

Texas couples over age 40 considering divorce can face challenges that their younger counterparts do not. Finances and other factors can complicate divorce.

Divorce is a complex legal process that statistically will affect around half of all couples married for the first time. While many people imagine that lengthy marriages are the most stable, the reality is that a Houston couple may choose to end their marriage even after spending several decades together, raising a family and owning property.

Couples who tied the knot 30, 40 or even 50 years ago may have never considered what divorce might be like and never anticipated it happening to them. As an increasing number of older adults separate and divorce, an entirely new population of divorced people is struggling to come to terms with the reality of the divorce process and how it affects them.

Potentially complicated financial matters

Joint financial concerns are among the most complex matters addressed by divorce proceedings. The longer a couple is married, the more intertwined their finances are going to be. Couples who divorce later in life will have to consider financial matters such as:

• Home ownership and mortgage

• Shared checking and savings accounts

• Pension payments

• Social Security benefits

• Retirement accounts

• Stocks, bonds, and other investments

Valuable property, such as artwork or antiques, can complicate the financial picture even further. Other assets such as vehicles, jointly owned business ventures and rental properties will also have to be handled. Finally, hidden assets have to be located and addressed.

Divorce can take longer than you expect

The Texas Attorney General has outlined the fundamentals of the divorce process in this state, which includes a mandatory wait of 60 days between filing the papers and the day a court grants the request. However, any divorce has the potential to take longer than this. If, for instance, the divorce is contested other steps will need to be taken. Resolving financial matters and property ownership can also take weeks, if not months, to complete. Mediation may simplify the process but not every couple chooses to seek pre-court settlements. Simply preparing the suit for filing can take more time than many couples anticipate.

Fewer couples stay together for the long run

No one likes to think about their marriage ending but the figures are not necessarily on the side of couples staying together for several decades. The San Antonio Express-News shared data concerning marriage success rates. After considering the fact that some partners die early, it is estimated that 50 th wedding anniversaries are achieved by only 6.2 percent of couples. Additionally, 25 th wedding anniversaries are achieved by only 35.3 percent.

Given the complexities associated with getting divorced later in life, many people in Houston choose to speak with an attorney to learn more about this process and how it affects them.