Later-in-Life Indiana Divorces Can Be Especially Difficult

As the stories of Al and Tipper Gore and Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger have taught us, many marriages seemingly will last forever, but sadly do not.

Those couples were married 40 and 25 years, respectively, and have recently broken up. And as a Wall Street Journal article points out, breaking up later in life can leave some hurdles that newer couples don’t have to tackle.
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The bottom line is divorce in Highland, or anywhere for that matter, can be a trying time. There are financial matters to consider, as well as dealing with the emotional stress that can come with a break-up. But consulting with an experienced Highland Divorce Lawyer can help ease the transition from married life to single life.

A U.S. Census report released in early 2011 found that fewer first-time married couples are making their 25th, 30th and 35th wedding anniversaries, even at a time when the average life expectancy is higher than ever. Though the report doesn’t say the age of the couples when they broke up, some experts say long-married couples are calling it quits.

Being married a long time can bring up questions about property division that can be tough to tackle. That’s aside from the emotional toll a divorce can take as someone who has had a certain lifestyle for decades now must figure out a new way to live. And for those who lived comfortably together, the amount of time left to earn money or possibly seek employment to live a stable lifestyle may be running out, making the divorce settlement that much more important.

Dividing years of assets, retirement accounts and other property in order to ensure the spouse is able to survive and thrive after the divorce is final is a key element of any divorce settlement. These issues can be complex and contentious, as both sides will stake a claim to what was earned or purchased during the life of a marriage, especially one that spanned decades.

A Highland divorce lawyer’s job is the assist a client in all facets of a divorce while keeping as much emotions out of the equation as possible.

The house:

There once was a time when the spouse who got the house made out great and would give anything to have that asset, which acted like a large-scale investment. Now? Not so much. Many areas of Indiana have been hard-hit by foreclosure and the glut of foreclosures have driven down the market value of other houses.

While it’s possible that a house could be sold for a profit, it could take a year or more, as the inventory for houses is high. And while it could be sold for a profit, perhaps not as much as years ago. A spouse must decide whether he or she wants to take on that responsibility.

The retirement plans:

Aside from a house, the couple’s long-built retirement plan is likely the biggest asset, which makes dividing it difficult. Pensions, individual retirement accounts and 401(k) accounts are typically divisible if they were acquired while the couple was married.

Indiana is one of 41 equitable distribution states, which means that both spouses have the legal right to claim a share in the retirement account, but that the division will be “fair and just”. In the other nine states, the spouses are equal owners of the property.

In order to divide this property, a qualified domestic relations order will likely be necessary. It lays out the retirement plan and specifies how the plan will be divided. For instance, “non-qualified” plans include stock options and may not be subject to the same rules of a QDRO.

The family business:

If a couple has spent years building a small business, a divorce can be a critical time for a business’ survivial. If it is owned by one spouse, but the other is entitled to a share, that can make decisions that affect the business difficult.

Perhaps a “post-nuptial” agreement can determine what will happen to the business in the event of a divorce or death. This type of agreement can help the company sustain itself even if there are major changes in the owners’ lives.

If you or a loved one requires representation in a family law matter in Highland, contact the Padove Law at 219-836-2200 or toll-free at 877-446-5294. With 30 years of experience dealing with divorce, child custody and other family law issues throughout Northwest Indiana, Padove Law works for the client.

Additional Resources:

The ‘Splitting’ Headaches of Late-Life Divorce, by Kelly Greene, The Wall Street Journal