Legal Blog

Legal Considerations for Divorce Later in Life

older coupleLater-in-life divorce or “gray divorce” occurs more frequently today than ever before. Typically, these couples are over 50 and can be described as baby-boomers and empty-nesters. The concerns faced by these couples are quite different from those of their younger counterparts. Instead of dealing with child issues such as custody, access, child support, and college tuition, they are looking at retirement assets and how to make them last.

Experts are not sure why there has been such a dramatic increase in the later-in-life divorce rate, but according to an article in the Wall Street Journal the divorce rate among this demographic has doubled over the past two decades. Some theorize the cause to be a shift in the marriage focus for this particular generation. Prior generations saw marriage as being successful based on how well each partner succeeded in his or her marital role the husband as the provider and the wife as a homemaker and mother. The shift, which occurred in the 1970’s, placed more importance on each individual’s happiness within the marriage. For many, this happiness dwindles after fulfilling child rearing duties and finding you no longer have much in common with your spouse.

Whatever the cause, increasing numbers of Americans over 50 are deciding to divorce. Finding ways to establish and maintain security is critical and retirement is a key issue. Divorce at this age must be handled with great care to ensure each party can maintain financial independence. Issues such as retirement savings, social security, and alimony are more relevant. As later-in-life couples start working through the divorce process with an attorney or mediator, here are a few points for consideration:

  • Retirement funds: when these are divided later in life, it allows less time to replenish that which is transferred to the other spouse.
  • Alimony: alimony and its termination date require careful consideration for someone close to retirement, as retirement will cause there to be less income available.
  • Social security: these benefits are not affected by the divorce laws, but social security funds are a factor to consider when looking at the entire financial picture.
  • Health insurance: it may be more expensive to acquire for a person later in life who may have pre-existing conditions. Continuation until date of divorce is common, with some provision for continuation coverage.

The division of assets is always a consideration for divorcing couples. In some cases, the assets of later-in-life couples are debt free, thereby creating an opportunity to convert to cash. For example, the large family home may have quite a bit of equity. When sold, the proceeds can be divided, then used to purchase smaller homes that are better suited to the new lifestyle.

For anyone considering a divorce, the right legal representation is important. Choose your attorney or mediator with care, ensuring they have a full understanding of the issues unique to your situation, contact Linda Sorg Ostovitz, Offit Kurman, at (301) 575-0381.


Linda OstovitzLinda Sorg Ostovitz is a family law attorney. Her legal experience spans more than 32 years. In this time, she has served as a leader, educator and advocate. Mrs. Ostovitz holds a prestigious fellowship in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Currently, she serves as President for the Business Women’s Network of Howard County, by which she was chosen Woman of Distinction for 2014. Mrs. Ostovitz represents clients in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore Counties. Her practice focuses exclusively on divorce litigation and mediation, child custody and access, child support, alimony, business valuation, as well as property and asset distribution. In addition to providing legal representation in court, Mrs. Ostovitz provides mediation services to help families come to a fair and legally-sound conclusion outside of the traditional court proceedings.


Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With 120 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eight offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

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