Whether this is your first marriage or a subsequent one, there can be good reasons to consider divorcing over 50. Over the past few decades, “gray divorce” has become something of a trend. In fact, whereas the overall rate of divorce is declining in the United States, the divorce rate for people 50 and over has been rising.
Dividing your property and debt in a gray divorce
Divorce over 50 can be a lot like divorce among younger folks, but with some key differences. Although there may be no need for a parenting and child support order, your kids are likely to be disconcerted by your decision to divorce. Adapting to the changed family dynamics can still be a challenge for families.
The main area you’ll see differences is in your finances. You’ll be dividing one household into two, and that is generally more expensive. This makes the division of community property a crucial aspect to a gray divorce.
Further, you’ll probably be dividing pensions, retirement benefits, life insurance policies, investment accounts and Social Security benefits.
When it comes to dividing pensions and retirement benefits, you should know that Arizona’s community property rules also apply to these accounts. Generally, each of the spouses has the right to a half-interest in the other spouse’s accounts, but only for the period of the marriage. In other words, you have a greater financial interest in your spouse’s plan the longer you have been married.
Moreover, there is a specific step required for dividing pensions and retirement plans. You will need a type of court order known as a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO (“QUAD-Roh”). This is the court order that pension and retirement plan administrators need to have in order to have the authority to disburse money from the accounts without the plan participant incurring early withdrawal penalties and taxes.
Although it’s possible to find QDRO forms online, we strongly recommend having a lawyer prepare your QDRO. It’s crucial for the QDRO to comply with the pension or retirement account’s plan rules, along with Arizona law.
If you have questions about how a particular asset or debt would be divided in an Arizona divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney.