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Grey Divorce: Special Issues in Late-Life Divorce

Grey Divorce: Special Issues in Late-Life Divorce

While the divorce rate has decreased since its record high in the 80s, it has increased dramatically in the over-50 crowd. In fact, according to a Bowling Green State University study, the divorce rate for people over 50 more than doubled between 1990 (one in ten) and 2010 (one in four).

Why are mature adults getting divorced?

A grey divorce often occurs after the children go to college, take their first jobs, and leave their parents alone in the empty nest.

Raising children together, working, and saving for retirement often kept spouses together through the years, but, in some cases, long-time partners are finding they have few interests in common and little emotional connection left to hold the marriage together.

It is interesting to note that most reports show an unfaithful spouse only rarely contributes to these splits, and instead, the couple has simply grown apart as they have raised their children and focused on their careers.

What are some issues or challenges unique to grey divorces?

While child custody and child support are central in most divorces among younger couples, the children are grown and this is of no concern in the majority of grey divorces. There are, however, other challenges unique to a divorce after age 60. Primarily, this includes the split of:

What about the house?

Many older couples raised their children in the family home and planned to stay there for the rest of their lives. These couples often have paid off the mortgage, and the house has equity. How to fairly divide marital assets, such as their home, can be specifically difficult—especially when one spouse wishes to remain in the home. Our attorneys regularly work with clients to settle property issues like this and can talk with you about ways to divide equity in home.

What do I need to know about retirements and pensions?

By the time couples reach their 60s, they often have significant retirement savings, including:

  • Pension plans
  • 401(k) accounts
  • Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

If you or your spouse acquired or contributed to these accounts during the marriage, the law will consider them marital property. That marital property will be divided under state law depending on where you live. For example, Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, so spouses must divide all marital property in a fair and just way, regardless of who contributed to the funds.

Sometimes, splitting retirement savings requires filing a special agreement known as a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). The judge and all parties involved sign this agreement. After all parties sign, the retirement plan administrator will distribute the funds.

Your Petrelli Previtera, LLC attorney can help you identify assets to be divided, explain how equitable distribution will apply to your case, work with you to create a divorce settlement agreement defining how that property will be divided for your divorce, file your QDRO, and protect your assets in your grey divorce.

What about alimony and other spousal support in these marriages?

Courts are under no legal obligation to award alimony, but for couples with long marriages, this may be an important consideration, especially when one spouse stays and home and did not work or only worked for part of the marriage. The courts may find that it is unlikely the spouse will be able to find the work necessary to support him/herself so close to retirement age.

Courts may also grant spousal support if one partner has significant medical issues, requires ongoing personal or nursing care, or has a number of outstanding medical bills or ongoing medical needs.

It is important to note that, in addition to alimony, Social Security may play a role in the amount of money each spouse receives in a grey divorce. If your marriage lasted a decade or longer, you are eligible to draw Social Security based on your former spouse’s record when you turn 62. This does not reduce your former partner’s benefits, or affect them in any other way.

Are there other unique financial considerations?

People entering their senior years are often more concerned about healthcare and life insurance than their younger counterparts. If you work and your employer offers these benefits, there is little worry. For those who do not, however, paying for health insurance and life insurance as an older adult can get expensive.

If you are currently on your spouse’s insurance plan, but face divorce, look into your options for healthcare coverage and life insurance before you reach an agreement on property division, alimony, or other support. If you rely on alimony, you may also want to invest in a policy that protects you in the event that something happens to your former spouse.

Contact Our Lawyers for Assistance

The lawyers at Petrelli Previtera, LLC, understand the unique financial implications of divorce after 60. We can help protect your investments and your future if you’re getting divorced.

Contact us at 866-465-5395 to schedule a time to discuss your divorce.

Client Testimonials

Here's what our clients have to say about working with us. Please note, results may vary based on individual circumstances.

Melinda Previtera, Esq. came highly recommended to our family. Her knowledge base, professionalism, and compassion paved the way for a successful outcome. Melinda is efficient, detailed, and informative. She helps manage expectations, and postures her client for a fair and equitable result. We are happy to recommend Melinda!

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My experience was very good. Everyone was professional and attentive to my needs, keeping me updated every step of the way. I couldn’t ask for a better result, highly recommended.

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My marriage life has been a hell for me for the past four years until I decided to put an end to what has to be ended. Choosing a lawyer was another additional stressful part of the long process. I’m so glad that I’ve found the right one for me at Petrelli Previtera. Life isn’t always fair, but at least having her in my corner, felt even better. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!

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