Grey Divorce

Love doesn’t always grow with time, and divorces among couples over age 50 have more than doubled in the last thirty years. Among these couples, the majority separated after long-term marriages lasting more than twenty years. If you’re part of these statistics, it’s important to understand how a “grey divorce” impacts your retirement plans and future.

What Makes Grey Divorce Different?

Couples divorcing later in life face different challenges than those divorcing at a younger age. When a couple has been married for decades, it can be hard to determine whether certain assets should be treated as separate property, which could complicate the division of assets. Moreover, asset division also becomes complex when dealing with retirement accounts that have grown considerably over time or pensions with payments stretching into the future. 

Senior couples who divorce also have less time to rebuild careers and save for retirement than their younger counterparts. The effect on the family can be significantly difficult in grey divorce as well. For numerous reasons, it is a good idea for older divorcing couples to work with attorneys who understand the complexities of grey divorce.

Spousal Support and Asset Division

Alimony is often one of the most contentious areas for couples divorcing later in life. Often, one spouse has focused more on career building while the other focused energies on the homefront. Or one spouse may suffer from a condition that limits their ability to work. If a spouse is likely to have trouble with financial support, the other may be ordered to make up the difference with alimony, possibly on an indefinite basis. 

However, couples sometimes negotiate arrangements where a spouse might receive a greater share of certain assets instead of alimony. It is important for everyone involved to understand the implications of the arrangement, including tax consequences. 

Retirement Planning

Plans a couple developed for retirement together will need to change completely when they separate their lives. In grey divorce, couples may have contributed to a variety of retirement accounts and other investments, and dividing these assets equitably can be a challenge. Moreover, couples divorcing later in life have less time to build a nest egg sufficient to support an independent life. They may need to develop a plan that involves working longer or in a different position than originally envisioned. 

When a couple owns or operates a closely-held business, the situation is even more complex. It is often necessary to consult specialists to value the interests and develop a plan for business succession.

The Effect on the Family

Grey divorce cases rarely involve custody issues, but the potential for family conflict can be just as great.  Older couples often own assets jointly with their children, so it is critical to manage division of this property with care. Often, couples in grey divorce cases are more likely to have received inherited property which is treated as a separate asset rather than marital property, but any appreciation in value may be considered marital property subject to division. 

Senior couples may still be dealing with their children’s college expenses or loans, so they will need an equitable plan for dividing these and other debts. Finally, it is often a good idea to work with a counselor to help diffuse conflict and avoid painful damage to family relationships. 

What Mistakes Should I Avoid in a Grey Divorce?

It is important to avoid critical mistakes that frequently come along with grey divorce. Often, one or both partners in a marriage do not understand the extent of their assets and liabilities, and this can prevent them from receiving their fair share of property or require them to take on an unfair amount of debt.

Another common mistake in grey divorce is underestimating necessary expenses and failing to account for factors such as insurance, tax consequences, and home repairs. Working with an experienced team can help you avoid mistakes and prepare for the next stages in your life.

Talk to an Experienced Grey Divorce Lawyer in North Carolina

At Salines-Mondello Law Firm, PC, we can help prepare you for all facets of your divorce, providing compassionate care and extensive knowledge of divorce law and estate planning. To begin working with an experienced grey divorce lawyer in North Carolina today, simply contact Salines-Mondello Law Firm, PC by phone at (910) 777-5734 and schedule your fully confidential consultation.