What is a Gray Divorce?
Gray Divorces take place between spouses who are over 50 years old. Dissolution of the marriage of couples who are 50 years old and above is increasing in the country.
There will be difficulties and challenges. A common issue is when a spouse is very financially dependent on the other. After the divorce, the financially-dependent spouse will have to deal with a drastic lifestyle change. Issues regarding properties will arise. There’s also the issues of support and alimony among other things.
The parties have to decide who is better capable of refinancing a mortgage of family homes not yet paid off. The more capable spouse will then be the one who will remain in the family home.
A divorcing couple who are over fifty needs to be aware of how divorce can affect the accounts dedicated to retirement. A spouse is entitled to a 50% share of the other spouse’s account.
Anything contributed prior to the date of marriage is a separate property of the account owning spouse. You should help your lawyer trace what’s community property and what’s not. Social Security Benefits are also considered in dividing community property.
For many clients over 50, retirement accounts may be their most significant asset. Retirement accounts’ value may be less than their balance.
Spousal Support & Alimony
Spousal support is a material issue in gray divorces. The party asking for post-divorce spousal support will be required:
- To have been married to the other spouse for at least 10 years or longer;
- To demonstrate they are not able to earn sufficient income to meet their minimal needs; and
- To show they have made a diligent effort to earn sufficient income or develop skills to do so.
Debts are not limited to credit cards. It can also mean mortgage debt. If both the names of the spouses appear on a note, then the vehicle or home will need to:
- Be refinanced into one spouse’s name or sold, and
- Minimize liability.
There are specific legal mechanisms in place to ensure that this can occur and having an experienced family law attorney in your corner can help tremendously.
Getting a Gray Divorce is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s never too late to make decisions that will make you ultimately happy. It’s just like any other divorce only that there may be key issues that you need to discuss with your lawyer.