Gray divorces refer to divorces between divorcing couples over the age of 50 which are happening with increasing frequency. Because of their circumstances, gray divorces can face unique challenges divorcing couples should be familiar with and understand how the family law process may be able to help them through.
Unique circumstances gray divorces may face
Divorcing couples over the age of 50 can face some unique situations or concerns to address including:
- Retirement accounts and Social Security – divorcing couples over the age of 50 can face financial challenges that may be different than some other categories or types of divorcing couples. Dividing retirement benefits in half can be a concern if they cannot cover the expenses of two households headed into retirement. The divorcing couple will have to determine how to divide retirement benefits are part of their property division agreement and may also need to address Social Security benefits.
- Asset division – because of the length of many gray marriages, asset division can be particularly challenging. Depending on the state where the couple is divorcing, marital property will typically be divided in half or equitably. This can create a challenge for the same reasons as dividing retirement later in life and it may also be difficult to determine what is separate property as opposed to marital property after all those years married.
- Insurance – health insurance and life insurance can be challenges to divide during a gray divorce. If one of the spouses does not work outside of the home, they may lose their health insurance coverage when they divorce which can be problematic later in life to lose. Additionally, a life insurance policy the divorcing couple carried may have accumulated value over time and it will be necessary to determine how to divide that value.
- Adult children – a divorce later in life can have emotional and other impacts on adult children. Especially if the couple has adult children from different marriages, those adult children can potentially be impacted financially by the divorce as well.
How property division is conducted is important in many divorces but may be particularly important during a gray divorce. The divorce process is intended to leave both spouses in as financially sound a position as possible following their split which can be more difficult to do in gray divorces. For that reason, couples divorcing over the age of 50 should be aware of the challenges they may face during their divorce and how to protect their interests.