Dan Lewis | Family Law Attorney
There is a new trend in society today – more and more people are getting divorced later in life. While separating and divorcing can be emotionally and financially difficult for all couples, those who have been married for many years and are approaching retirement (or are already retired) potentially face more complicated and pressing financial issues and should be especially careful that their financial needs are addressed in the legal process.
How is marital property divided upon divorce? In North Carolina, the division of marital assets and debts is called Equitable Distribution and there is a presumption under the law that “equitable” means an equal division. The law considers a number of factors when distributing marital assets and debts, including the duration of the marriage, the age of the parties and their physical and mental health just to name a few. Have you planned for retirement and do either of you have a pension, 401(k) or other retirement assets in addition to Social Security benefits? How will your divorce impact the retirement assets available to you and what rights do you have to any retirement assets in your spouse’s name?
Can I receive alimony or do I have to pay it? Perhaps even more challenging to couples divorcing later in life is the issue of alimony or spousal support. The transition to a fixed income can be much more financially difficult when trying to make ends meet in not one, but now two households. Do you know your current budget and have you considered any changes you will be making upon retirement? If you were the financially supporting spouse during your marriage and are now transitioning to a fixed income, in what amount and for how long might you be required to pay alimony? If you were the financially dependent spouse during your marriage, what rights do you have to receive alimony from your retiring or already retired spouse?
Dan Lewis is a family law attorney in Charlotte, NC. In addition to child custody and child support cases, his practice includes complex equitable distribution and alimony matters.