Gray Divorce: What to Expect
Overall divorce rates may currently be the lowest they’ve been in the last 50 years, but rates among older adults have dramatically increased in the last few decades. It is now more common than ever for people in their later years to end long-term marriages and forge their own paths.
Whereas people may have been more likely in the past to remain in unhappy or less-than-ideal marriages due to cultural and religious stigmas or concern for minor children, gray divorce has become a viable and socially acceptable option for many couples who no longer wish to be married.
People over 50 who are considering divorcing their long time spouses, regardless of the reason, usually have many questions about what to expect. Below, we explain the different types of issues that need to be considered in a gray divorce.
4 Major Considerations for Divorce Over 50
Like any major decision you’ll face in your life, the decision to divorce should not be taken lightly, no matter your age. There are many considerations, some of which are unique to gray divorce, that you’ll need to keep in mind as you pursue your desired outcome.
Here are a few of the biggest things to keep in mind:
#1: Division of Assets & Debts
The longer you have been married, the more financially entangled your life becomes with your spouse. After decades of marriage, you probably have joint bank accounts, credit cards, and a mortgage or two. In 20, 30, or more years together, you may have also amassed a significant amount of property that will also need to be divided - things like your home, a second home, rental properties, cars, and even cherished personal items. Additional layers of complexity emerge when spouses own a business together or are high-net-worth individuals with complex networks of assets and debts. Parsing through your entire financial situation will be a significant part of the process and should ideally be handled by an attorney with ample experience in the area of gray divorce.
#2: Social Security Benefits & Retirement Accounts
For older adults, social security benefits and retirement funds are essential topics. If you’re planning to divorce, you’ll need to consider how ending your marriage will affect how much income you’ll have moving forward into your retirement years. It may become necessary to delay your retirement, to make an early withdrawal, or to increase your contributions in order to meet the retirement lifestyle you originally planned for. All of these considerations need to be carefully addressed with the help of your attorney.
#3: Health Insurance & Long-Term Care Considerations
Getting older means that health insurance is more important than ever, but when a couple divorces, one of those spouses will lose any coverage they had on the other spouse’s plan. Getting new coverage after the divorce may be difficult for the lower-earning spouse. Similarly, if one or both spouses are dealing with serious health issues, then long-term care considerations, such as the need for a caregiver or a professional long-term care facility, will also need to be taken into account.
#4: Estate Planning
Finally, divorcing couples must consider how their divorce will affect their estate plan. Wills and trusts need to be changed to reflect new beneficiaries and remove the other spouse as Executor. If you have set up Powers of Attorney, Durable Powers of Attorney, or Healthcare Directives, you will need to update these as well.
Experienced Divorce Attorneys
If you have decided to pursue a divorce, your first step should be to contact a qualified divorce attorney. Our legal team possesses extensive experience in gray divorce and all of its accompanying legal considerations. During your initial consultation, our compassionate legal professionals will provide you with an overview of the process, answer any questions you may have, and address any potential concerns. If you’re ready to speak with an attorney about filing for divorce, contact us to set up a consultation.