Age Gap and Divorce

And older woman with white hair and a young man with brown hair sit near each other, looking at the camera and smiling.

It is often stated that half of all marriages end in divorce.  Some reasons for divorce may be more common than others, such as adultery, substance abuse, or financial infidelity.  A recent study indicates that an age gap between the parties can also be a strong contributing factor.  If the parties have an age gap of just five years, their chances of divorce is 18%.  If the parties have an age gap of twenty or more years, that chance goes up to 95%. When the parties divorcing have a large age gap, there are some specific issues that the parties may need to consider.

One very important issue for you to consider if you have a large age gap between you and your spouse is that of division of the retirement accounts.  Where one spouse is substantially older, that spouse has likely been contributing to retirement accounts for a much longer time than the younger spouse has been.  How these accounts are divided, or whether they will be divided at all, will depend heavily on how the parties treated the account, whether the spouse contributed to that account during the marriage, and any relevant pre or post nuptial agreements.

Another important issue to consider is that of spousal maintenance.  If the older spouse is the one who may be obligated to pay spousal maintenance, it must be remembered that he or she may be retiring soon.  After retirement, it may not be possible for that spouse to continue to pay spousal support at the same level as was ordered when the spouse was employed.  Parties may want to consider including a provision in any divorce settlement that addresses what will happen when the paying spouse retires.  Parties should also take this into consideration if it is necessary for the older spouse to be paying child support.  If the paying spouse’s income dips following timely retirement, it is not unreasonable for the parties to return to court to request an adjustment in the child support calculation to reflect what the paying spouse is actually making.

One area where an age gap is not likely to make a difference is that of child custody.  Unless one spouse is not able to properly care for the child by virtue of extreme age, the court is not likely to consider a large age gap between the parties when making decisions about custody and parenting time.

We have extensive experience helping our clients with issues of divorce at every stage.  Call us today at (651) 371-9117 to talk about your divorce and how we can help you.

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