Unique considerations in “gray divorce”

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2023 | family law |

What should If you’re considering or preparing for divorce after several decades of marriage, you’ve likely heard the somewhat unfortunate term “gray divorce” that’s used when couples in their 50s or older divorce. Although the term is used regardless of how long a couple has been together, couples in this age group often have a long history together, likely with considerable shared assets. 

When people divorce as they’re approaching or already in their senior years, it’s only normal that they’re likely to have different concerns than couples who divorce in their 20s or 30s and have few assets – individual or shared. 

Certainly, each couple is unique. However, let’s look at some of the things you may want to focus on or at least consider as you prepare to move into your senior years as a single person.

Asset division

You likely have at least one home or other property as well as other assets of considerable value. Further, you probably have investment and retirement accounts. It’s crucial to get a fair portion of these assets. If you and your spouse have employer-sponsored retirement accounts like 401(k)s, you’ll likely need a qualified domestic relation order (QDRO) to divide these without penalties.

Spousal support

If you’ve been out of the workplace for several years or haven’t worked full time because you were raising children or maybe providing unpaid labor for your spouse, it can be difficult to become self-supporting soon after divorce. Getting spousal support (alimony), at least for a time, can be crucial to your financial well-being. 

Health insurance

If you’ve been on your spouse’s employer-provided health insurance plan, it’s important to realize that this will probably end once the divorce is final. You must get your own health insurance in place before that.

Other things to consider

There are a multitude of other considerations. If you’re both paying for a child’s college education, for example, you’ll want to work out how that will continue when you’re no longer married. You’ll likely want to make changes to your estate plan. If you’re getting close to Social Security retirement benefit eligibility age, you’ll want to find out how much you’ll be getting to better determine your financial picture. You can do that at https://www.ssa.gov/myaccount/.

If you haven’t been the one managing the family budget and financial matters over the years, it’s wise to get your own financial and tax advisors in addition to experienced legal guidance. This will help you make the best decisions for yourself during the divorce and moving forward.

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