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Broome County Family Law Blog

Gray divorce rates on the rise as seniors live longer

In New York and across the country, life expectancy has reached new heights, but for married couples, this also means a longer life together. For some older couples, this extra time together means experiencing new things and growing closer, but for others, it means growing apart. As a result, so-called 'gray divorces" have become more common among seniors, and the challenges these types of separations pose to high-asset couples can be unique.

Gray divorce rates have more than doubled in recent years, and today, approximately one quarter of all marriages among couples over the age of 50 end in divorce. In many cases, these divorces involve shared assets and financial accounts, potentially raising questions about issues surrounding spousal maintenance, divesting interest in shared business ventures and the distribution of funds from investment accounts.

Child visitation and concerns about safety

In some cases, a separated or divorced parent may be worried about the safety of their kid with the other parent. While New York courts usually take these concerns seriously, they also want to be certain that the allegations are true. Therefore, they will generally conduct an investigation.

A parent should collect any documentation, including police reports or medical information, that support the claims. Documentation may also come in the form of testimony from family members, friends, neighbors or even the child's teacher. Child protective services might get involved in the investigation and interview some of these individuals. If the child has a therapist, this professional may be able to present an opinion. However, a judge might also order an evaluation from a different therapist.

Tips for stay-at-home moms living in a post-divorce world

During your marriage, you and your ex-spouse chose to split responsibilities. While your husband went to work to support the family financially, you stayed home to raise good kids. Following your divorce, though, you likely must fulfill both obligations. 

About 25% of recent marriages end in divorce. While you are not alone in choosing to end your marriage, as a stay-at-home mom, you may face some unique challenges in your post-divorce life. While focusing on yourself and your family likely makes sense, you also probably need to begin to build the foundations of your new life. Here are some tips: 

How retirement is affected by divorce

According to statistics gathered by the Pew Research Center, the rate of divorce for people age 50 and over has doubled since 1990. While divorce at any age can be very difficult, couples who separate after turning 50 face a more immediate challenge regarding their retirement. For some people in New York, there is little risk, but others may face a more difficult path ahead if they don't meet certain criteria.

Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for Americans. That's why spouses who never worked may be worried that they'll lose these benefits after a separation. However, an ex-spouse could be entitled to 50% of their former partner's full Social Security benefits even after divorce. This only remains true if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the recipient remains unmarried. Furthermore, these benefits will only be granted if the person's own Social Security income is not worth more than 50% of the ex-spouse's.

Responding to a debt collector's lawsuit

For many people in New York dealing with insurmountable debt, a lawsuit from a debt collector may be a very serious concern. Of course, legal action is only one of the pressure tools used by collection agencies. People may deal with phone calls, letters and other attempts to collect a debt. Over 70 million people across the country have dealt with collectors at some point or another, and one-quarter of those felt threatened during those encounters. In order to handle a legal threat or a lawsuit over an unpaid debt, it is important for people to understand their rights.

First, if a lawsuit is filed in court, it is important to respond. Many borrowers fail to respond because they do not see a way out of the situation and are also unable to pay the bill in question. However, this could lead to a default judgment being entered against the person and even more difficulties with credit and debt. A lawsuit requires that an answer be officially filed with the court clerk rather than responding directly to the plaintiff that filed the case. It is important to make sure that the answer is filed correctly prior to the deadline specified.

Americans aren't always sure about their credit card debt

A survey from U.S. News & World Report found that 21% of Americans don't know if they have credit card debt. It also found that Americans don't always know the interest rate on the debt that they do have. Of those who were surveyed, 37% said that they had just one credit card while 12% said that they had five or more credit cards. There are many ways that debtors can get a handle on their balances such as transferring them to new cards.

These cards generally come with a lower interest rate or no interest at all for a certain period of time. However, 45% of those surveyed said that they didn't know if they would be charged a fee for transferring a balance to a new card. Of those who actually transferred a balance, 12% were able to pay down their debt before the introductory offer expired.

Young Americans face credit card debt troubles

Young people in New York and across the country are facing a growing debt burden. While millennials were once known as a generation averse to borrowing, especially after they came of age during the financial crisis of 2008, an increasing number of young Americans now owe a significant amount to credit card issuers. Of greater concern is the indication that more of them are also having trouble paying their bills. Americans aged 18 to 29 now have a greater amount of debt overdue by at least 90 days than at any time in the past eight years.

Indeed, 8% of all credit card debt held by people in this age group is at least 90 days overdue, which points to serious concerns about delinquency. There are many reasons why people fall behind on their credit card payments. Many individuals open a new card after their financial situation improves and they begin working at a more highly paid professional job. They feel certain that they will be able to repay any debt. However, changing circumstances can confound these plans. People dealing with job loss, medical problems or other issues may be more likely to fall behind on payments. In addition, unpaid credit card debt continues to grow due to relatively high interest rates.

5 ways grandparents can help in a post-divorce family

The grandparent-grandchild relationship is one of the most important in society. After all, when grandparents spend time with grandchildren, everyone benefits. As you may suspect, though, when your child divorces his or her spouse, your relationship with your grandkids may become more difficult. 

With their wisdom and life experience, grandparents always have something to offer their grandkids. When grandchildren have to adapt to a post-divorce family, though, grandparents often play a critical role. Here are five ways you can help your grandkids during and after their parents’ divorce: 

Key financial documents to use in a divorce

During the divorce process, an individual will want to have access to as much information as possible. A person could use a New York state tax return to gather data about his or her household's net worth. A federal tax return may also yield clues about how much a household is worth and whether a spouse may be hiding or obscuring assets. In most cases, returns from the past three years will be most relevant in a divorce proceeding.

Anything gleaned from a tax return can be used to create a statement of net worth. This will include the value of any assets a person holds directly, and it can also include the value of assets of which an individual may have an interest. For instance, an individual may be entitled to a portion of a retirement account held in his or her spouse's name only.

How to deal with difficult child support payments

Some divorced parents in New York complain about child support amounts set by courts. These court-ordered monetary obligations could strain a payor's budget, but legal options exist for those struggling to stay current on their child support payments. Ignoring problems like job loss or reduction in income sends noncustodial parents down the unpleasant path of child support enforcement.

Upon losing a job or suffering a similar financial setback, a payor should approach the family court as soon as possible. Petitioning the court to modify a child support order before a custodial parent alerts the state's child support enforcement agency about unpaid child support could reduce the financial consequences. When presented with documentation about income loss, a court might approve a request to lower the payments. This would reduce monetary burdens on the noncustodial parent and potentially prevent the negative consequences of letting support go unpaid for months or years.

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