Scott David Stewart 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Divorce Over 50 While Hope Springs Eternal, Prenups Keep it Real Divorce is a life-changing event, at any age. Contrary to popular opinion, though, divorce over 50 isn’t the end all to a social life with the opposite sex. Most of us seek companionship, no matter what our ages. So it should be no surprise that mature singles are increasingly using online dating websites to meet like-minded people. Along with eHarmony and Match, websites with names like SeniorMatch, 50YearsPlus, and SilverSingles offer connections between more experienced participants. There is no “right time” to start dating after divorce, for any age group, and it still doesn’t come with instructions. Good advice for many would be to take a few steps back before dating, let intense emotions fade, and get comfortable with life as a single person again. But with older adults particularly, there is a real sense of how quickly time passes. With that insight, the single-and- mature are sometimes a little too eager to get involved in new relationships. For the over-50 crowd it’s often “the sooner the better” because “time’s a wastin’.” What naturally follows a successful dating experience is, of course, cohabitation or remarriage. Cohabitation Among the Over 50 Crowd Mature adults are cohabiting in greater and greater numbers. As many as 1.8 million heterosexual Americans over age 50 were living together in 2006. According to co-director Susan Brown, Ph.D. (National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green University, Ohio), that represented a 50% increase from the year 2000. A fair proportion of these cohabitants have chosen to live a freer lifestyle, without the formalities of marriage. In part, however, increased cohabitation rates among older adults may be the consequence of too many financial disincentives to late marriages. Couples are concerned with protecting their assets and preserving an inheritance for their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. They are concerned about increased tax liability, of being responsible for a new spouse’s medical expenses, of losing military benefits and military pensions. They are concerned about paying spousal support and of losing their Social Security benefits upon remarriage. Despite these legitimate financial deterrents, many still take the plunge and remarry. PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS As already mentioned in a previous article, most people have their primary wage earning years behind them when they reach age 50. That realization alone is motivation to hold tight to assets should the new marriage end in divorce, too. But even with mature first marriages, having a prenuptial (premarital or antenuptial) agreement ensures predictability of finances at a time when there is little margin for error. With so many years to collect and amass assets and property, most mature newlyweds bring substantial assets to their new union. Prenuptial agreements have the unique benefit of addressing any property or asset, whenever acquired and wherever situated, so long as a party has a legal or equitable interest therein. For a mature couple, a prenup has the benefit of providing a proactive plan going into the marriage, as well as a plan of action on the occurrence of almost any contingency or event. However, the agreement cannot adversely affect the right to child support; cannot minimize or eliminate spousal maintenance if doing so will force the party onto public assistance; and cannot violate public policy or any statute imposing criminal sanctions. As a final note, a valid prenup is designed to prevent the occurrence of involuntary and unconscionable agreements; they take into consideration the potential imbalance of wealth between the parties. There is also the potential for an imbalance of emotional and intellectual power as well, which is why both parties to the agreement should retain counsel to represent their respective interests and assure fairness and full disclosure in the negotiating process.
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