When you’ve been married for decades, the thought of getting divorced can be extremely painful. Most likely, you and your spouse have spent your years together building a life that includes a family, businesses, and many other things. So, when you get a divorce later in life, it leads to a great deal of uncertainty and change.
One of these changes involves how you’ll file your taxes. Filing taxes after a divorce as a senior requires careful attention to your specific financial and tax situation. Not only that, but it also requires guidance from professionals, including a team of experienced divorce attorneys that can help guide you through this complex process.
Robert Sparks Attorneys Can Protect Your Rights
When you’re going through a divorce in Florida, you need an experienced team on your side to make sure your rights and interests are protected. This is especially true if you are a senior because you probably have more assets to protect. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, we can help you navigate this change and provide you with support every step of the way. We’ll explain your options and make sure you get the treatment you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more.
Is Divorce Common Among Seniors in Florida?
Florida has a reputation as being a destination for many older people. This is partly due to its weather and its relatively lenient state tax laws, especially on things like Social Security benefits, pensions, IRAs, and 401(k)s.
Thus, not only does Florida have one of the largest populations of seniors in the country, but it also has one of the highest rates of senior divorce in the United States. According to a 2019 study by the National Center for Family & Marriage Research (NCFMR), the divorce rate among people aged 50 and over in Florida was 11.4%, which was higher than the national average of 10.1%.
There are several reasons why divorce is becoming more common among seniors in Florida. For one, there is a larger-than-average senior population in the state, which will obviously skew the average a bit. At the same time, though, many older couples in the state are more financially stable, which can make them more willing to step out of an unhappy marriage. No matter what the reason is that you or other seniors decide to get a divorce, it may be helpful to understand how assets are divided in a Florida divorce.
How Are Assets Divided in a Florida Divorce?
Regardless of what age you are, the divorce process in Florida works the same way in terms of how property and assets are divided. Under Florida law, marital property and assets are divided under “equitable distribution” rules. This means that the court will divide these assets in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equal or 50/50. There are a number of factors that a court will take into account when deciding how assets will be divided. These usually include:
- Ages of you and your spouse
- How long you were married
- You and your spouse’s present and future earning capacity
- Any property you and your spouse owned
- How you acquired the property
- Whether you or your spouse squandered any assets
- Your family ties and obligations
- Tax consequences, if any, there will be
- Any other relevant factors that the court decides are important
Going a step further, Florida law also
- Marital property – Marital property is pretty easy to define. It usually refers to any assets, property, or other debts you and your spouse collected while you were married. These typically include:
- Houses or real estate
- Any income
- Cars or other vehicles
- Bank accounts
- Business interests
- Retirement accounts
- 401k accounts
- Credit card debt
- Separate property – Separate property is similarly easy to understand, as it usually refers to any property or assets that you owned prior to being married. In the vast majority of Florida divorces, separate property is given to the spouse it originally belonged to. Thus, it is not usually subject to asset division, except in rare cases when it was added to during the marriage. Usually, separate property includes:
- Individual bank accounts
- Any inheritances that were acquired during the marriage
- Gifts you received
- Any proceeds from a lawsuit
- Any property you acquire after the dissolution of the marriage
Obviously, the asset division process can be emotional and challenging. However, knowing how the process works makes it a little easier to understand what you’re dealing with. But another aspect of a divorce that many people may be wondering about is what tax implications there are after a divorce.
Filing Taxes After a Florida Divorce as a Senior
When you get a divorce as a senior, there will be a number of changes that you’ll go through. One of these changes involves your taxes. As it relates to filing your taxes, there are two major differences after a divorce: your filing status and adjustments.
In Florida, you file your taxes based off of your status–single, married filing jointly, married filing separately–on the last day of the previous year. Thus, depending on when your divorce is finalized, you may have to file under a different status on your income tax returns the following year. Usually, most couples finalize their divorce at the beginning of the new year so they can file one last joint return, which gives you bigger deductions and puts you and your ex-spouse in a more favorable bracket than you would if you file under the “single” status.
There are a number of other adjustments that you’ll have to make when you’re divorcing in Florida, such as:
- Alimony payments – The vast majority of senior divorces in Florida include alimony payments. If you are the spouse that has to make alimony payments based on a written separation agreement (which most divorces have), you can claim those payments as deductible. However, this generally only applies on your federal taxes. Also, if you’re making alimony payments without a separation agreement, those payments aren’t deductible.
- Alimony received – Likewise if you receive alimony payments from your ex-spouse, it’s taxable in the year you get it and isn’t subject to withholding. This means that you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty.
- Name changes – When you legally change your name after your divorce, it has tax consequences. Most often, when your name doesn’t match Social Security Administration (SSA) records, it can delay the processing of your tax returns. Thus, if you want to change your name after your divorce, notify the SSA immediately so they can begin the process of changing their records.
- Withholdings – Another important, and often overlooked, step to take post-divorce is to change your withholdings by filling out a new W-4 form. Not only does adjusting your withholdings lower your tax rate and make you eligible for other deductions, but failing to do so could cause underpayment of your taxes. This, in turn, could lead to penalties and other liabilities at tax time.
Overall, your taxes are one of the many changes that you’ll encounter after a divorce in Florida. As a senior, these changes can have serious effects on your finances and further implications as you adjust to your life post-divorce. In order to make sure you have all your bases covered, consider working with our team of experienced Florida divorce attorneys.
Support and Guidance When You Need It Most
As a senior in Florida, going through a divorce can be extremely challenging and emotional. If you are either going through one now or feel like it’s imminent, you know how important it is to have support and guidance. At Robert Sparks Attorneys, our team of experienced Florida divorce attorneys can provide you with this support and guidance when you need it most. We can help you navigate the process from start to finish, making sure your interests are fought for. Whether it be tax implications or property division, we’ll make sure you know what to expect. To get started, contact us for a free consultation.