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Prepare for the potential challenges of a ‘gray divorce’

On Behalf of | Feb 8, 2024 | Divorce |

Divorce is common regardless of age and financial situation. However, there are certain demographics that are getting divorced more often than they used to. Notably, that includes those 55 and older. The term frequently used for these cases is “gray divorce.”

Although there are myriad issues that must be navigated as part of a divorce, finances are a factor for all in some way. Those who are weighing the prospect of ending their marriage but are hesitant from moving forward need to know the facts about the process. With the number of people getting a gray divorce doubling for those over 55 and tripling for those over 65 when compared to 1990, it is wise to think about how to proceed.

Recognize the realities of a gray divorce

Any divorce will require people to make financial adjustments. This is particularly true with gray divorce. Statistically, researchers found that men see their standard of living reduce by more than 20%. For women, it is 45%. Overall wealth for both reduced by 50%.

This is especially troublesome for women. Despite women having a greater likelihood of requesting the divorce, they need to think about the financial realities after doing so. In the past, women were homemakers at a much higher rate limiting their options for gainful employment after a divorce. Age is also an obstacle to supporting themselves and maintaining their marital lifestyle. There are specific areas to concentrate on when pursuing a divorce at an older age.

Retirement plans will need to be updated. Couples might have combined accounts and looked toward a future in which they no longer needed to work. The retirement accounts could be split as part of property division, but there is nuance that must be understood. In addition, they will no longer be sharing costs and benefits. For example, finding a new place to live, making sure there is adequate healthcare coverage and other bills come to the forefront.

Finding a job is not going to be as easy for an older person who might have been out of the workforce or who does not have marketable skills and training. Prospective employers cannot make employment decisions based on age, but that does not mean they are obligated to hire people who they do not believe are suitable for the job. This needs to be considered as part of the divorce.

In long marriages or situations where people had substantial assets, there will be an accumulation of property. Perhaps there is a family home that they purchased early in the marriage and has increased in value. That will likely need to be sold if the sides cannot forge an agreement for one to retain it with the other either making a trade of property or buying them out.

Other types of property will inevitably up for dispute including automobiles, vacation property, collectibles and personal items. Some can negotiate in good faith to settle the case, but it can be costly and time-consuming to go back and forth about property division.

Preparation is key with a gray divorce

There are viable solutions to any family law problem and it is important to be aware of how to achieve the objective of moving on and being financially stable when doing so. Whether it is from the perspective of the higher earning person or the person who will be receiving support, it is vital to be prepared with advice from those who are immersed in the area, understand the local community and want to help achieve a positive solution to every family law challenge.