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Older couples in Utah face unique challenges after divorce

When older people divorce, they may face several challenges that include retirement, finances and emotional health.

Utah has built a reputation as a family-friendly state where people get married and then grow old together after building a generation of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, even in such a family-oriented state, divorce often happens and for older couples, it can be emotionally and financially devastating.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a recent study revealed that over a 20-year period, 1990-2010, divorce among older adults increased by 50 percent. In 2010, more than 600,000 divorces occurred to this age group and statistics indicate that if a person has remarried, their chances of getting a divorce are 2.5 times more than someone in an original marriage.


People often work all their lives, dreaming of the day when they can retire and finally enjoy the good life. These retirement plans may include traveling around the world, living out the rest of their lives in the home of their dreams, spending time shopping or on the golf course, or traveling to visit family members and friends. However, USA Today points out that retirement plans often take a huge hit in a divorce.

It is believed that the costs for retirement after divorce may climb as high as 50 percent. This is due to the fact that the retirement plans must now pay for two separate lifestyles, rather than one. This can force people to either cut back on those retirement dreams or stay in the workforce longer then they planned.


If people are financially dependent on their spouse, a divorce can throw them into a financial nightmare. They will need to pay for their own health care insurance, rent and bills. As an older adult, they may not have the ability to go back to school or they may not have work skills.

However, the Utah Courts states that in some situations, spouses may be able to obtain financial assistance from the other spouse. The court uses several factors to determine whether someone should receive alimony and this includes the following:

  • Length of marriage
  • Custody of minor children
  • Contributions of the receiving spouse to the other spouse's success
  • Spouses' capacity to earn income
  • Financial situation of the spouse who would receive the alimony

If a spouse is awarded alimony, then it may also be possible for that spouse to acquire a life insurance policy on the other spouse as a sort of financial protection in the event that the spouse dies.


The loss of a marriage can also impact an older person emotionally, especially if the person's marriage was a long-term one. This can put people at risk for depression so it is important for them to take steps to strengthen their emotional health such as talking to friends, exercising, remaining involved with their family and developing new interests to keep themselves busy.

It can be difficult to understand the many laws concerning divorce in Utah. Therefore, people may find it helpful to meet with an experienced family law attorney.


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