Older couples are seeking divorce in increasing numbers. The children have left the nest. The parties have retired, or are looking toward retirement. So why divorce after the age of 50?
Increased life expectancy is one reason. We are living longer and are healthier. An individual in his or her mid-fifties can expect to live another 20 years or longer. Many people are simply unwilling to live another 20 or 30 years in an unsatisfying relationship.
Increased earnings for women is another reason. Many women are not totally dependent upon their spouses for economic security. They are willing to go it alone.
How does “Gray divorce” differ from divorce in general?
First, there are no minor child related issues involved. The children have grown and left the marital home.
Next, there are now assets to be divided. This involves the marital home and perhaps some additional properties. Some may have mortgages, others may be owned free and clear.
There are retirement assets to divide. This could involve defined benefit plans or defined contribution plans such as 401Ks, 457s, SEPs, or Keoghs. There may also be IRAs and Roth accounts. The division of these assets may require additional specialized orders called QDROs (Qualified Domestic Relations Orders) or EDROs (Eligible Domestic Relations Orders).
There may be other investment plans and bank accounts to consider. In some cases, there are family owned businesses involved.
Finally, there is personal property, some of which may have a high value.
There are tax consequences and considerations to take into account when dividing the assets. Not all assets can be treated similarly.
The planning, negotiation, and division of assets from a long-term marriage can be complex. Since your years of earning and recovery are limited, if not non-existent, it is important that this be done right.
Due to these complexities, a “do it yourself” approach can have tragic consequences. It is important to have an attorney skilled in the implications of these asset divisions on your side.