Research shows that adults over 50 are having freer, non-traditional relationships. Older adults may have raised their children and are “done” with the pressure of traditional relationships. The evidence shows that older adults have relationships that buck the traditional gender roles of marriage. Older adults are joining an overall trend for people to live together instead of getting married. However, if resources are shared in these relationships, break-ups could get complicated. A growing minority of couples are in “LATs,” “Living Apart Together” or in otherwise nontraditional relationships with separate finances. The trends show that “grey divorce,” or divorce over 50 is predicted to rise, so in the future, many older people will be re-partnered.
Even if older adults don’t want to get married or live together it could be prudent to make an agreement about what happens should they break up or one of them fall ill.
Some things to consider in a later in life partnership could include:
- The dilemma of choosing the partner over the kids or vice versa when it comes to passing on wealth. Either the partner or kids losing rights to assets should the couple divorce or break up.
- Remarriage can actually affect some divorced people negatively as it can jeopardize a person’s access to their ex spouse’s social security benefits or interfere with spousal support. This may explain why a lot of older divorced couples are not choosing to get remarried.
- Being able to have a say over a partner’s health-care decisions.
- What happens to a shared house or shared holiday home if you break up?
- Many couples have several homes, and could even reside in different states for part of the year. The law in each state could differ on whether property is likely to be awarded to an ex if the people in the relationship are not married.
- Dating during the divorce process – dating during divorce can affect people at any age, especially if you are spending a lot of money on the new partner and “dissipating” marital assets.
Consider Making a Cohabitation Agreement: You don’t have to be married to make a “prenup.” If you are in a relationship and unmarried over 50 there are specific considerations you may be able to take care of by sitting down with an attorney and drafting an agreement about what happens to your property in the event of a break-up. This may be especially important if you are supporting an ex-spouse and your current partner won’t have any legal rights to your social security or spousal support should you separate, fall ill or die. You may also be able to determine estate planning issues such as giving your new partner access to your healthcare information and permission to make legal and healthcare decisions on your behalf, and deciding if any assets should go to your current partner.
As there are often children from a previous marriage involved, it’s important to enter into new relationships later in life consciously and with an understanding of the risks of a break-up. Many older partners choose to live in separate homes and are financially independent. However sometimes there is a difference in income and one partner pays for everything, or the couple moves in together. If you are in a relationship where there is a financial imbalance between you and your new partner it may be wise to plan what happens next. A good family law attorney can sit down with you to make a cohabitation agreement or non-marital agreement with your partner or draft estate planning documents. You can also make a “property agreement,” that indicates property you have agreed to share. Some couples may choose to buy a house together and make an agreement that outlines this as their one shared asset. If you are unmarried, break-up and have conflict with your ex over shared property you should consult with an attorney to learn about your options.
A skilled Massachusetts family law and divorce attorney will advise you on an agreement. If you are considering retaining a family law or divorce attorney and want to understand all your options, then please call us at (978) 341-5040 for a consultation today.