Three added nuances of a gray divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2023 | Family Law

Even after several decades together, some couples grow apart. Some choose to remain unhappily married, but for others, divorce becomes the best option.

The trend of older adults divorcing continues to rise. The term “gray divorce” typically refers to a divorce involving spouses who are 50 years of age or older. While at the basic level, most divorce proceedings have the same elements, divorcing after a lengthy marriage, or at an advanced age, comes with added complexities.

Financial impact of dividing assets

While most couples accumulate assets during their marriage, people in decades-long marriages tend to have more at stake. Depending on the ages of the spouses, the issues may be broader than accumulated property, savings and investments; in many of these cases, retirement accounts and social security benefits also come into play. When one or both spouses are already drawing on their retirement accounts, equitable distribution may become more difficult.

Estate plan changes

Typically, most people over 50 have some form of will or or other estate planning documents in place. During a divorce, this plan needs to be revisited. Divorcing spouses need to decide whether to maintain funds set aside for adult children, such as money to pay for a wedding or school, or whether those funds need to revert to the spouses for their own adjusted needs following the divorce. Additionally, divorcing spouses should re-evaluate beneficiaries on all accounts and life insurance policies. While some people choose to leave their ex-spouse as a beneficiary, many opt to change the designation to their children.

Costs of living alone

After years of living as a couple, living alone requires careful planning. In some instances, the distribution of marital assets may not have much of an effect on monthly cash flow. In other cases, the former spouses are left to struggle with how to manage the expenses for two households when there is not necessarily a corresponding increase in income for those households. One spouse may be forced to incur expenses for health insurance that was previously covered by the other, or the spouses may be dealing with the cost of Medicare supplements or other unanticipated medical expenses. Divorcing couples often fear that they will have to spend down their share of marital assets to afford their basic living expenses.

Every divorce has its own nuances, but gray divorces often require additional planning and foresight to ensure the best outcome for both spouses. Working with an experienced family law attorney is crucial in making sure that these considerations are not overlooked.