The idea of
divorce often conjures up images of young couples deciding to call it quits after
discovering they don’t get along after all. While this is certainly
true in some cases, statistics show that
gray divorces are gaining momentum far faster than younger divorces.
What is gray divorce?
A gray divorce is a divorce that occurs when one or both spouses are over
the age of 50, or the marriage has existed for at least 20 years. Some
experts believe gray divorce is on the rise because many people’s
financial situations have stabilized since the recession. Rather than
being bound in an unhappy marriage for fear of losing house and home,
people have more opportunity to start anew. No matter the cause of the
trend, gray divorce brings a unique set of complications.
Important matters to consider in a gray divorce include:
Retirement benefits: Younger couples who choose divorce likely have little interest in retirement
plans, as any such plans would be minimal in value. For older couples
getting divorced, retirement plan benefits can represent the most complex
issue in their divorce. In some instances, intentionally postponing retirement
until the gray divorce finalizes may be helpful.
Asset and debt division: As it is complex to divide retirement benefits, it can be challenging to
fairly divide the assets and debts of a divorcing couple that has been
together for decades, since more assets are likely to be considered marital
property (or community property). In general, the more assets subject to
property division, the more complicated the process will be. This can include investments,
business interests, homes and real estate, private practices, retirement
accounts, pensions, and debts.
Life and health insurance: Divorcing couples over the age of 50 will need to consider life insurance
policies. Additionally, health insurance or long-term care insurance may
no longer be affordable for the spouse who earned less income during marriage.
Reobtaining insurance after a gray divorce can be difficult.
Competency: Family law matters cannot be concluded confidently if there is reason to
believe someone is incompetent, or unable to understand his or her own
decisions and best interests. This concern can be exacerbated in gray
divorce if a spouse may be suffering from cognitive decline.
Read our comprehensive Gray Divorce guide
For further information on the social and legal issues surrounding Gray Divorce:
If you are considering divorce later in life, we invite you to contact
McKinley Irvin and our Washington divorce attorneys. Our comprehensive
legal counsel is delivered with compassion, care, and insight that only
years of legal experience can provide.
Contact our team for first-rate assistance.