The divorce rate in California and across the country has remained fairly stable since peaking in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but the overall rate conceals a demographic trend that has alarmed many sociologists. While the number of younger couples choosing to end their marriages is actually falling, divorces among couples aged 50 years or older has surged in recent years. A study published by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research reveals that such couples were twice as likely to end their marriages in 2014 as they were in 1990.
When younger couples decide to divorce, asset division and child custody are generally the issues that cause the most friction. However, a stable and secure retirement income is often the chief concern among older divorcing couples. Studies have found that divorced women over the age of 65 have a high risk of falling into poverty, and older divorcees often rely on Social Security benefits to make ends meet.
Those who divorce after being married for 10 years or more are able to claim Social Security benefits based on the contributions made by their former spouses, but they lose this right if they choose to remarry. Divorced women over the age of 50 who eschewed careers in order to raise families often find the employment market to be an inhospitable place, and opportunities are generally scant for older job seekers who possess few skills and little work experience.
Experienced family law attorneys may focus their efforts on spousal support when negotiating on behalf of their older divorce clients. Attorneys may also urge older clients to think carefully when deciding how to approach the primary residence. While a family home may have great sentimental and financial value, paying real estate taxes and meeting the costs involved in maintaining a large house can be challenging for those living on a fixed income.