It may seem unusual, but later in life divorces are a not-infrequent occurrence. Because children are not generally an issue when older couples divorce, it may not seem necessary to obtain an attorney for this type of divorce. Yet there are many unique issues that can crop up for elderly spouses who decide to split up. Having an experienced Houston divorce attorney to help navigate these complex matters can help to protect your hard-earned assets, pension and more.
Divorce for elderly couples can raise issues that are often not implicated in marriage breakdowns for younger people. The spouses may have accumulated substantial assets over the years, whether in the form of property, savings, or even retirement pension plans. Many of these late-in-life issues can be resolved with the help of the best divorce lawyers in Houston. Residents can trust the Houston family law attorneys at Moffett Law Firm to handle their divorces with the utmost skill. With more than 30 years of combined family law experience, our team of professionals is well-positioned to help clients of all ages achieve their goals in a divorce.
Division of Assets Under Texas Law
Texas is a community property state, which means that all debts and assets accumulated during a marriage are considered to be part of the marital estate, with certain exceptions. This includes property brought into the marriage and property acquired by inheritance or gift. While many assume that community property means that assets and debts will be divided equally during a divorce, this is not the case.
Texas courts divide marital property in a “just and right” manner, taking into account a number of factors that are of particular importance when the couple is elderly. According to a Houston divorce attorney, one of the factors having a significant impact on property division for older couples is the health or physical condition of the parties. If one spouse is disabled or in poor health, a court may find that he or she is entitled to a greater share of the marital assets — or a lesser share of the marital debts — due to this reality. With the help of a divorce lawyer, Houston spouses can make the argument that their own age and declining health should be taken into consideration as well.
Other factors a court will consider include the difference in earning capacities between the spouses, size of the marital estate, the difference in age between the spouses, and spousal support obligations. For older couples, particularly those involved in a lengthy marriage, spousal support may be ordered for a longer time — which may become permanent. A Houston divorce attorney can help to advocate for your best interests regarding the division of property, including receiving or paying spousal support.
How Retirement or Pension Accounts May Be Divided
Even though only one spouse may have worked during a marriage, a retirement or pension account of the working spouse is typically considered part of the marital property. The court will generally consider the contributions of the spouse who kept the house, raised the children, and otherwise supported the working spouse when deciding how to divide the marital estate, which will include retirement or pension accounts.
The division of retirement or pension accounts can often be a surprise to elderly couples. However, because it is part of the marital estate, along with other assets and debts, it will be subject to the “just and right” property division. The court will consider the income disparity between each spouse, whether one spouse was at fault for the divorce, the size of each spouse’s separate estate, and a number of other issues before making a determination on how to divide assets.
In addition, a knowledgeable Houston divorce attorney can help you analyze your financial situation at the start of the divorce process to help you understand what to expect during a division of assets.
Should a Couple with No Property and Assets Hire a Divorce Attorney?
Even if you don’t have property or assets, it is still important to consult a divorce lawyer. Houston clients considering divorce may have substantial debts, which will also be subject to division as part of the marital estate. Issues such as spousal support may also arise, along with the division of other potential assets that you may not have considered, such as retirement or pension benefits. While it may be tempting to handle your own divorce through an online form or a do-it-yourself kit, hiring a qualified Houston divorce attorney can help to ensure that you are fully protected and do not spend your golden years in substantial debt or struggling to make ends meet because your divorce was not handled properly.
Divorces for older Texans can be complex, even without the emotional issue of child custody complicating the process. The Moffett Law Firm has significant experience handling all aspects of Texas divorce cases, including those that are unique to divorces of elderly couples. Contact us today at 713-987-4250 or via our online form to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can help you.