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Have Wealth? Over 50 years old? Read this before your divorce begins

We began to discuss the topic of over-50 divorces in yesterday’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. As I will often do when we have multi-day topics such as this one, I recommend that you go back and read what we had to say yesterday to give yourself a better idea about what factors are often in place when spouses in their fifties, sixties and beyond enter into divorce proceedings. Often times issues that you never would have anticipated being relevant rear their heads in cases like these.

In today’s blog post we will put a bow on this topic by delving into some final thoughts on relevant issues related to over-50 divorces. If you are just now learning about divorce and are confused or need clarification on anything we have discussed please do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC today. We offer free of charge, no strings attached consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. You can come in, ask your questions and go about your merry way if you would like.

What to do with your family home

I sadly hear clients all the time talk about what was once thought of as their “Forever Home” now needing to be put up for sale due to circumstances related to divorce. While most people will never own a Forever Home due to the nature of how frequently we move nowadays, the concept extends to the sentimental and emotional value of living in one residence for an extended period of time. If you are a person in your sixties who is now considering divorce you could have raised your children and even your grandchildren in your marital home. Now having to come face to face with the prospect of selling that home can be pretty overwhelming.

Fortunately there are ways for you to prepare for having to go through something like this. Reading and learning as much as you can is a good place to start. For instance, given that Texas is a community property state, your home may represent a sizeable chunk of your and your spouse’s combined net worth. What will you and your spouse decide to do with your home? Selling it during your marriage may allow you to escape from the tax consequences on the profit/capital gain that is earned. If the home is awarded to you or your spouse and is later sold, your tax liability would be on any profit made on the sale over and above $250,000.

As any family law attorney worth their salt will tell you, it is important to consider the prospect of selling your house as a both an emotional and financial decision. It is undeniable that you and your spouse have built in a great deal of memories into your home. This is a virtually inescapable fact. However, you cannot place the importance of these memories in front of what is best for you and your family. You can purchase a new house and make new memories in the future. You cannot undue a mistake made in your divorce due to sentimentality.

Handling retirement savings as a part of your divorce

One of the most important wealth building tools that is at the disposal of most any American is that of retirement savings vehicles like workplace 401(k) plans, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) as well as general mutual funds, index funds and simple savings accounts. Many of these options allow people to save for retirement, sometimes on a tax free basis. We’ve all played with the online compound interest calculators, I’m sure, and have seen just how much a little bit of money saved now can grow in ten, twenty or thirty years.

All it really takes is some discipline. If you can save now, you can prosper later. You and your spouse likely have some money tucked away in these type of accounts and are either taking advantage of them now, or are planning on doing so as soon as you retire. What happens if an unexpected divorce crosses your path? Are you able to move forward and know how to handle your retirement savings?

A big concept to be aware of when it comes to dividing retirement benefits in a gray divorce is that sometimes you are not able to change the beneficiary on certain accounts due to their already beginning to pay out benefits. If this is the case you will need to be able to either compensate your spouse an equivalent value of what his or her share is, or work out a way to be compensated if you are the spouse of the employee receiving the benefit.

Social Security and gray divorce

The ability to receive a portion of your spouse’s social security benefits depends in large part on when your final decree of divorce will be entered. This is due to the fact that you and your spouse must have been married for at least ten years before your divorce is finalized in order so that one spouse can receive benefits under the other’s work history. If you are the spouse who will want to claim benefits under your ex-spouse’s name you and your attorney need to carefully consider the timing of everything so that you are not unable to claim benefits in this way.

Spousal Maintenance

The following situation is fairly common in the modern gray divorce. Let’s suppose that you are a woman in your early sixties who has decided that now is the right time to get a divorce. You have not worked outside the home since before your kids were born. However, when you did work you did so to help put your husband through law school.

Flash forward some thirty-odd years and your spouse is a successful attorney and has been for sometime. You and he have built up some substantial wealth and now you are interested in knowing just what interest you have in the resources that have been accumulated. Also- what about you going back to work? While your estate may be substantial it may not be enough to sustain you? What can be done?

Well, remember that as Texas is a community property state, any and all income earned during the course of your marriage (as well as property) is considered to be jointly owned. This means that even if you never earned a dollar during your marriage that a just and right division of the money and property in your life will be made available to you.

Secondly, given the length of you marriage you are able to take advantage of the laws in Texas that regard spousal maintenance. Maintenance is more widely known as alimony in many states. It allows you to receive a certain amount of money each month for a certain period of time after your divorce, as paid by your ex-spouse to you. This will allow you to meet whatever minimal basic needs you have while you get your feet under you after a divorce.

The bottom line here is that you have rights if you are the spouse who has been married to a high income earner during the course of your marriage. However, the court will not assert those rights for you. You need to hire an attorney with experience in handling high income, gray divorces in order to ensure that your rights are protected properly.

Questions on gray divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC

To learn more about gray divorce please contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. Our attorneys have handled many, many gray divorces and that is to your advantage. Allow our attorneys to utilize that expertise in order to benefit you and your family during this difficult time. We pride ourselves on representing our clients to the fullest of our abilities and your case would be no exception.

To schedule a free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys simply give us a call. We offer consultations six days a week here in our office where we can address any questions or concerns that you may have.

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