Divorce Post-Retirement: What You Need to Know


Divorce is never easy, but for those divorcing post-retirement (also called a gray divorce), the financial stakes are often critically high. Consequently, if you are over 65 or are retired and considering divorce, there are unique considerations to keep in mind. You must understand how divorce laws affect your financial future and stability.

Retirement Divorce Options

Retirement-age couples in Nevada have similar divorce options as younger couples: uncontested or contested divorce. Methods for resolving your divorce are also the same, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and traditional litigation.

Coming to a mutual agreement through negotiation or mediation is often preferred for its capacity to reduce conflict, save time and money, and give you more control over the outcome. In cases where couples cannot agree, litigation remains the most common pathway to a resolution.

Contested Divorce in Retirement

When retirement-age couples cannot reach an amicable agreement on the terms of their divorce, they must proceed with a contested divorce. Although custody battles over minor children are less common, high-conflict situations may still arise, particularly when it comes to dividing assets accumulated over a lifetime.

Specific considerations for retirement-age individuals facing a contested divorce include:

  • The complexity of asset and debt division: With potentially decades of marital assets to consider, including retirement accounts, pensions, and property, the division can become highly complex.
  • Lack of income and future support needs: Determining alimony or spousal support can be particularly contentious, especially if one or both spouses are out of the workforce.
  • Health care and insurance needs: Decisions regarding the division of healthcare benefits, Medicare, or long-term care insurance hold significant weight at this stage of life.
  • Estate planning and beneficiary considerations: Revising wills, trusts, and designated beneficiaries to reflect the new marital status is crucial.

Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from the spousal support and property division process when divorcing post-retirement.

Understanding Nevada Alimony Laws

Alimony can be a particularly contentious issue in a post-retirement divorce. Nevada family courts will assess various factors, including the duration of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage, each spouse’s financial condition, their income, and their capacity to support themselves financially post-divorce.

For those who are retired or nearing retirement, the court might consider age and health as critical factors in determining alimony.

Types of Spousal Support in NV

Temporary alimony is granted during the divorce process, providing financial support until a final order is established. Short-term alimony might be awarded to facilitate a transition period following the divorce, often with a predetermined end date, such as the sale of a marital home.

Meanwhile, rehabilitative alimony is designed to help spouses gain the necessary education or training to support themselves financially. However, in divorce cases involving those of retirement age, the likelihood of reentering the workforce is low.

Lastly, long-term or permanent alimony may be awarded in long-duration marriages where a significant disparity in earning capacity or financial holdings cannot be reasonably corrected post-divorce.

For those divorcing post-retirement, the focus may be on the possibility of long-term alimony, reflecting the necessity of financial support without the possibility of future income changes. However, this does not mean long-term or permanent spousal support is automatic in gray divorces.

To better understand how the courts may interpret your case, seek legal counsel from an experienced firm like Ford & Friedman.

Property Division Considerations

One of the most crucial aspects of a retirement-age divorce is how property and debts are divided. Nevada is a community property state, implying that all assets acquired and debts incurred during the marriage are deemed joint property and should be split equally upon divorce.

This rule applies to all tangible assets, including retirement accounts. However, dividing retirement accounts is anything but simple. If both parties are entitled to a portion of a pension or retirement account, a document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QROD) must be filed. The QROD will instruct the plan's administrator on distributing the benefits.

Dividing Social Security benefits can also be complex. Generally, if a marriage lasted for at least ten years, an ex-spouse may be eligible to receive a portion of the other's Social Security benefits. However, they must be at least 62 years old and currently unmarried.

Concerning investment accounts, always consider the tax implications of any transfers or withdrawals as part of the divorce settlement. An inadvertent transfer can result in significant tax liabilities that could diminish the financial standing of one or both parties.

We Are Here to Guide You

If you're considering divorce and you or your spouse is retired, Ford & Friedman is here to help you. We understand how fraught this process is and how uncertain your future may seem. Remember, while the process can be complex, you have resources and options to explore. Our team is standing by to help you come out on the other side, ready for the next chapter in your life.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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