Statistics show that New Jersey adults who are 50 and older are divorcing at higher rates. Since 1990, the rate of divorce in this age group has doubled. For the 65 and over age group, it has tripled.
While some researchers have wondered if the strain of retirement or empty nest syndrome leads to divorce in this age group, studies indicate that there is little correlation between these events and separation. Instead, older people seek a divorce because they are unhappy in their marriages and feel unfulfilled just as younger people do. It’s important to note that second marriages are more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. Furthermore, children of divorce are more prone to divorces; there’s a 60 percent higher chance for women with divorced parents and a 35 percent higher chance for men.
There are also social and financial implications for older adults who divorce. Already in an age group that is at a higher risk for social isolation, older adults may lose their social circle once they are single. For a single person 65 and older, living costs are 79 percent that of an older couple sharing a household. Divorced women who are 65 and older are 80 percent more likely than men in the same situation to live in poverty.
For these reasons, it is important for older adults to be mindful of their rights during the divorce process. It is vital that property be divided correctly in order to avoid taxes and penalties. For example, to divide 401(k)s and pension plans in divorce, a document known as a qualified domestic relations order must be prepared. The distribution and distributions from IRAs may also need to be rolled into another IRA.