The Unique Challenges of Gray Divorce

Black and white photo of a hand holding a wedding band.

Divorcing After 50 Introduces New Obstacles

While the overall divorce rate has been on a steady decline throughout the United States in recent years, the number of couples over the age of 50 seeking an end to their marriage has been on the rise. Couples pursue gray divorce for a variety of reasons: changing interests, kids growing up, even just a natural fading of feelings, exhaustion from a long unfulfilling marriage, infidelity, financial betrayals, domestic violence, and beyond. Whatever the reason, a divorce occurring so close to or after retirement introduces challenges that are irrelevant to younger couples looking to dissolve their marriage.

Retirement Savings

Retirement savings accounts are an important consideration in gray divorce because of each spouse’s proximity to the retirement age. When a couple divorces, absent a pre or post-nuptial agreement to the contrary, the savings that they contributed to their retirement accounts throughout their marriage are considered community property. As such, this marital asset is subject to division between the pair. A sum that was intended to support one household now has to support two, which may necessitate some reconsideration of retirement plans as each partner considers how they will afford their life after leaving their career.

Health Concerns

As one ages, one’s health likely becomes even more fragile. If you or your spouse relied on the other’s insurance, you will now have to consider the additional cost of medical care until you qualify for Medicare at 65.

Spousal Support

If you or your spouse assumed the role of a homemaker while the other went to an office job, alimony or spousal maintenance could be a concern in your divorce. As your dissolution of marriage is coming at a late stage in life, the homemaker will have likely sacrificed several years of experience in their field, therefore directly impacting their earning potential. This imposes a serious challenge to the homemaker as they consider how they will become financially independent. As such, spousal maintenance could be ordered.

If spousal maintenance is ordered, it introduces yet another unanticipated expense to the paying spouse that they must now budget for.

Additionally, the court can consider the ages of the spouses and earning potential of the spouses in deciding how to make a just and right division of the marital estate. In other words, the spouse with less earning potential at an advanced age can ask the court for a disproportionate (more than half) share of the marital estate.

Parent-Child Relationships

While gray divorcees are typically spared the obligation of paying child support or deciding on custody schedules as their kids are often grown, the parent-child relationship is a concern for divorce at any age. With more experience in life and relationships at their age, your children could become privy to the reasons for your divorce and feel pressured to take sides. It will take conscious efforts to maintain the parent-child relationship you’ve cherished since the child’s birth.

Gray divorce is an emotionally difficult process. Let us make it a little easier by shouldering the legal burden for you so you may focus on starting the next chapter of your life. Contact Camille Borg Law PLLC for assistance with your divorce today: (469) 646-7763.

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