Regardless at what stage of life it happens, a divorce is almost always a difficult process. At the very least, it means a change in the family unit, and typically brings with it questions about child custody, alimony, and dividing of property and assets.
However, when an older couple decides to get a divorce, not all of these factors are involved. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t complicated matters to address. In fact, many senior divorces in Florida have their own complications and factors that usually require extensive negotiation–and court intervention.
Florida Seniors Can Trust Robert Sparks Attorneys
If you’re a senior going through a divorce in Florida, it’s vital to get help from experienced Florida divorce lawyers. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we have a dedicated team who understands the difficulty and impact that a divorce can have on senior couples. We’re committed to offering personalized, caring, and effective legal assistance to our clients.
Contact us today to set up a consultation and see why we’re serious about helping you through a divorce.
Overall Divorce Rate in Florida
Going through a divorce in Florida is challenging and emotionally taxing, but it’s not uncommon. In fact, data from the Centers For Disease Control found that Florida was among the nationwide leaders in the overall divorce rate. Between 2019 and 2021, the divorce rate in Florida was 3.4%, sixth highest in the country.
While every divorce is unique, there are certain factors that contribute to Florida’s rather high divorce rate:
- No-Fault divorce – Florida has no-fault divorce laws, which means couples can get divorced without having to prove that one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. This legal ease of divorce can contribute to a higher divorce rate.
- Demographics – Florida has a diverse and growing population, including a significant number of retirees. Changes in marital status, especially among older individuals, can impact the overall divorce rate.
- Transient population – Florida is known for its transient population, with people moving in and out of the state frequently. This can lead to a higher divorce rate as couples may face unique challenges related to relocation and adjustment to a new environment.
- Marriage trends – Marital trends and cultural attitudes toward divorce can influence the divorce rate. Florida’s population includes people from various cultural backgrounds, each with its own views on divorce.
- Economics – Economic stability or instability can affect marriages. Florida’s economy, which includes various industries like tourism and real estate, can experience fluctuations that impact family finances and relationships.
- Lifestyle – Florida is a state known for its diverse lifestyle options, including a vibrant nightlife and recreational activities. These lifestyle factors can contribute to different relationship dynamics and potentially affect divorce rates.
It’s important to note that while the divorce rate may be relatively high in Florida, individual circumstances and reasons for divorce can vary widely among couples. The decision to divorce is a complex one influenced by a number of different factors. That said, it’s becoming more and more common, especially among Florida’s senior population.
“Gray Divorces” in Florida
Not only does Florida have a sizable population of people that have moved in, it also has one of the highest populations of elderly people in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 21% of Florida’s nearly 22 million people are aged 65 or over.
Other data from the Florida Demographic Estimating Conference calculates that this number will increase to nearly 6 million by 2030.
What all of this means is that there is a significant number of older married couples in Florida. And with that comes the prospect of a divorce.
Referred to as a “gray divorce,” the factors and issues involved can be more complex given the longer duration of the marriage. Usually, this includes things like:
- Retirement accounts – Older couples often have substantial retirement savings, such as 401(k)s and pensions. The division of these assets must comply with Florida’s specific laws and other regulations.
- Alimony – Alimony (spousal support) can be a significant issue in gray divorces, especially if one spouse was financially dependent on the other during the marriage. Florida recognizes various types of alimony, and the court may award it based on factors like the length of the marriage and the financial needs of both spouses.
- Healthcare and insurance – Health insurance becomes more critical as people age. In gray divorces, considerations about healthcare coverage and insurance become crucial, especially for spouses who may lose coverage upon divorce.
- Estate planning – Divorce can have significant implications for estate planning, including wills, trusts, and beneficiary designations. Older couples may need to revise their estate plans to reflect their changed circumstances.
- Social Security benefits – Understanding how divorce affects Social Security benefits is essential for older couples. Rules regarding spousal and survivor benefits may come into play.
- Real estate – Real property, including the marital home, may need to be divided or sold. Determining the value of real estate and the best approach for property division can be complex.
- Business ownership – If one or both spouses own a business, the valuation and division of business assets can be intricate in a gray divorce.
- Long-term care – Planning for potential long-term care needs, including nursing home care, becomes more significant in older divorces. Asset division may need to consider these future expenses.
- Inheritance – Older couples often have adult children, and divorce can impact these relationships and their emotional well-being. Decisions about inheritance and family dynamics should be addressed.
While it’s not uncommon for an older couple to divorce in Florida, it can be just as emotionally-draining as any other divorce. More importantly, the legal process remains the same for even a gray divorce in Florida. This means the pertinent issues are handled using the same legal framework.
Asset Division in a Florida Senior Divorce
When it comes to dividing assets in Florida, they use a principle called “equitable distribution.” This means that assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally. This includes everything gained during the marriage, regardless of who got it. Florida courts categorize assets into two groups for division:
- Marital property – This includes things like real estate, personal belongings, financial accounts, and investments, as well as business interests or professional practices that grew during the marriage. It also covers intellectual property like patents, copyrights, and trademarks obtained during the marriage, plus life insurance and financial tools acquired or funded during the marriage.
- Separate property – This belongs exclusively to one spouse and usually isn’t divided in a Florida divorce. It typically includes anything one spouse owned before the marriage, assets received as gifts or through inheritance during the marriage, or property explicitly declared as separate in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
To claim property as separate in a Florida divorce, the spouse asserting ownership must provide evidence, such as:
- Prenuptial agreements
- Inheritance records
- Bank statements
Again, because a gray divorce involves a longer duration of marriage, this means that the couple likely had more time to accumulate assets. With that said, Florida courts still use the same determining factors when deciding how the assets will be divided:
- Length of the marriage – Generally, longer marriages are more likely to result in equal asset division.
- Financial contributions – The court looks at each spouse’s financial input, including income, property, and financial support.
- Family contributions – Non-financial contributions, like taking care of the household or children, are also considered.
- Earning capacity – The court examines each spouse’s ability to earn money, considering their education, work history, and future earning potential.
- Age and health – The age and health of each spouse are taken into account, especially if one has health issues or is approaching retirement.
Any other pertinent factors, such as the couple’s standard of living, child needs, and prior agreements between them, are also considered. It’s vital to remember that once a divorce reaches a judge, they will have the final say in the asset distribution. This means that the assets will be divided in a way the court deems fair, which doesn’t necessarily mean equally. Moreover, this extends to other issues, like alimony.
Is Alimony Awarded in a Senior Divorce in Florida?
Generally speaking, alimony can be awarded in a senior divorce in Florida the same as it can in any other. Florida law recognizes the need for alimony payments in certain situations. To that end, judges typically consider two main factors:
- One spouse needs financial support.
- The other spouse has the means to provide support.
Once these conditions were met, different types of alimony can be awarded, including:
- Rehabilitative – This helps a divorced spouse for a short time so they can get on their feet after the divorce. It’s meant for things like getting an education or job training. To get it, the spouse has to make a plan showing how much time and money they need for these goals.
- Transitional (Bridge the Gap) – This helps a spouse financially for a short time after the divorce, sort of like a bridge until everything settles. For example, it could be awarded while waiting for the marital house to sell. It lasts a maximum of two years, and the awarded amount can’t be changed.
- Durational – When other types of alimony don’t cover a spouse’s needs, durational alimony might be granted. In Florida, it’s meant to provide support for a set “duration” of time. This can apply to short marriages or longer ones where the spouse doesn’t urgently need financial help.
As of 2022, the Florida legislature passed a law that removed “permanent alimony” from being an option, and added further considerations when making alimony decisions:
- Adultery can be considered by the court when determining the amount of alimony to be awarded.
- The person seeking financial support or alimony must provide sufficient evidence to establish their eligibility.
- If the person responsible for alimony payments gets married or lives with a romantic partner, the court may reduce or cease the payments.
- When the person responsible for alimony payments retires, the court has the authority to decrease or terminate the payments.
Like other aspects of a senior divorce, alimony decisions can be very impactful to how you move forward with your life. So, understanding how our team of Florida divorce lawyers can help you can help you make a decision.
How Our Florida Divorce Lawyers Can Help You
As a senior, you’ve dedicated the best years of your life to your family and spouse. So, when your marriage reaches a point of divorce, it can be very hurtful. However, once you decide to divorce, you have two paths to choose from: collaborative or non-collaborative.
- In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse, along with your attorneys, work together to settle the divorce through negotiation and mediation, avoiding the courtroom.
- On the other hand, non-collaborative divorce follows the traditional route of resolving divorce through litigation in court. In these cases, when you can’t agree on matters like child custody, asset division, or alimony, a judge steps in to make decisions. Non-collaborative divorces tend to be more adversarial, taking more time and costing more compared to the collaborative approach. They may involve multiple court hearings, legal motions, and even formal trials.
Deciding between a collaborative or non-collaborative divorce depends on your unique situation and how you get along with your spouse. While most divorces begin cooperatively, sometimes you might need legal help. In the event this happens to you, our team can help in the following ways:
- Legal guidance – Our lawyers can explain Florida divorce laws, procedures, and your rights. They can help you understand the legal aspects of your case. We can also provide you with legal advice tailored to your situation, helping you make informed decisions throughout the divorce process.
- Paperwork and documentation – Divorce involves a lot of paperwork, especially for older couples. Our lawyers can help you complete and file the necessary documents accurately and on time, reducing the risk of errors.
- Negotiation – If you’re pursuing a collaborative divorce or need to negotiate with your spouse, our lawyers can act as intermediaries and help you reach fair agreements on issues like property division, child custody, and alimony.
- Mediation – In cases of disagreement, our lawyers can represent you in mediation sessions to find mutually agreeable solutions and avoid lengthy court battles.
- Court representation – If your divorce goes to court, our lawyers will represent you, present your case, and advocate for your interests before the judge.
- Asset division – Probably the biggest issue in a senior divorce is asset division. Our team can assist in dividing marital assets fairly, taking into account Florida’s equitable distribution principles.
- Alimony – Our lawyers can help you understand your rights and obligations concerning alimony, whether you’re seeking it or opposing it.
- Modifications – If circumstances change post-divorce, our lawyers can assist in seeking modifications to court orders, such as child custody or support arrangements.
- Emotional support – Divorce can be emotionally challenging. Our lawyers can offer support and guidance to help you cope with the stress and emotional aspects of divorce.
- Protection of your rights – Our primary goal is to protect your rights and interests throughout the divorce proceedings, ensuring a fair outcome.
Overall, our Florida divorce lawyers are here to provide you with the legal expertise, guidance, and support you need to navigate the divorce process successfully and achieve the best possible outcome for your unique situation.
Get Help from Serious Florida Divorce Lawyers
When you’re a senior going through a divorce in Florida, you need the help of serious, experienced divorce lawyers. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our team has the dedication and expertise that you need to make sure you’re treated fairly. We understand the work and sacrifices you’ve made throughout your marriage, and even though you may be older, the outcome of your divorce will have an impact on your life going forward.
Don’t wait to get the help you need, contact us today to set up an initial consultation to get started.