Health Considerations in Gray Divorce

Lawyers in Creve Coeur & O’Fallon for Divorce Over 50

Getting divorced can be one of the most challenging things you go through, but it may be especially hard if you are older and have been married for a long time. Divorce after 50, also called “gray divorce,” may require several unique considerations compared to a typical divorce, such as health-related issues. At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., our experienced divorce lawyers recognize the challenges couples over 50 face during divorce – and we are focused on addressing the needs of our older clients. Our knowledge and understanding of the issues help us provide guidance and skilled representation to clients going through the process of a gray divorce.

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Current Health Issues

For individuals over 50, health issues can be a minor or major concern. One spouse may already have had a severe health problem – cancer or a heart attack – that will impact that person’s remaining life. In considering divorce, both spouses must factor in how to address pre-existing illnesses. For example, will the spouse with the condition be unable to work or able to work only minimally? Will the other spouse have the ability to pay spousal maintenance? If the spouse with the condition is not on Medicare and covered by the other spouse’s health insurance, how will that spouse continue to have health insurance, and who will pay for it? These types of health-related questions must be thoroughly analyzed and accounted for in any divorce settlement because, after entry of judgment, the failure to require payment cannot be revisited.

Post-Divorce Health Issues

Even healthy individuals over 50 should think about a future when they may not be so healthy. Statistically, people over 50 run a higher risk of significant health issues that could have a catastrophic financial impact if not addressed prior to divorce. If one spouse becomes ill and has no adequate health insurance, the illness could lead to losses of care or erasing the portion of the marital estate awarded in divorce to cover the medical expenses. Bankruptcy over health costs is increasingly common in retirees. Spouses must decide how to seamlessly assure affordable health coverage up to and through Medicare eligibility. Additionally, spouses need to revisit their living wills and health care directives to remove the former spouse. Finally, each spouse should determine what level of long-term care coverage would be required should one of them become ill and unable to work or provide court-ordered spousal maintenance. 

Social Security Benefits and Divorce

One benefit that deserves more attention in divorce negotiations than it gets is Social Security. If a couple stays married for at least ten consecutive years, upon divorce, either spouse can subsequently elect to collect from their former spouse’s Social Security rather than their own. If the benefit-seeking spouse so elects, it does not reduce the benefits received by the earning spouse – that spouse will still receive all the monthly benefits due.

Spouses often make the error of claiming it too early. The sooner one begins to take Social Security, the smaller the actual benefit. If one takes the early retirement sum, the lifetime benefits will be permanently reduced. However, waiting until full retirement assures the maximum benefit.

The impact of Social Security benefits could play out significantly in a gray divorce when older couples who are nearing or at retirement divorce. In this situation, particularly if only one spouse had been earning income during the marriage, the issue of maintenance (spousal support) could arise. If the party who would pay maintenance fails to raise the amount the spouse could claim under Social Security as income, that party could end up paying more in maintenance than necessary. Indeed, depending on the circumstances, it could eliminate the need for maintenance entirely.

Contact Our St. Louis County & St. Charles County Gray Divorce Attorneys

If you are over age 50 and are thinking about divorce, you probably have questions about how one or both spouses’ health concerns affect the decision to divorce. Call The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. today at 314-993-6300 to discuss your questions and get the answers you need about the divorce process.

At The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C., our lawyers can also help you address many of the practical concerns associated with your gray divorce. Additionally, we provide guidance with drafting prenuptial agreements for individuals over 50 who are looking to get married again. Contact us today to schedule an initial divorce consultation. Our Creve Coeur and O’Fallon divorce over 50 attorneys look forward to hearing from you.

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