Grey Divorce: 3 Things That You Should Know

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Grey Divorce: 3 Things That You Should Know

2 June 2015
 Categories: , Blog

It's called a "grey" divorce and it means calling an end to an unhappy marriage in your senior years. Grey divorces are on the rise, with people 50 years old and older twice as likely to divorce than previous generations. If you're among their ranks and are considering divorce, here's three things that you should know:

1.) Child support may no longer be a factor, but alimony is.

If you waited until after the children were out of the house to seek a divorce, child support probably won't be an issue. A rare exception might be a requirement to continue providing for an adult child's college education.

Alimony, however, is another issue. In short marriages, alimony is usually a very temporary stipulation by the court, designed to give whichever member of the couple who has the least income a chance to get on his or her financial feet, retrain for a new career, or restart a new one.

In longer marriages, alimony may be awarded indefinitely to a stay-at-home spouse. In New York, the courts can award alimony for life. In some states, the length of alimony is based on the length of the marriage. In Ohio, for example, magistrates have been known to follow a 1 for 3 rule, so ending a 30 year marriage could leave you facing 10 years of spousal support even though there is no absolute fixed minimum or maximum. If your spouse is in poor health, that could increase the length of time you have to pay some form of support.

2.) Pensions, retirement funds, and investments are divided.

It doesn't matter if no one is at fault for the breakdown in the marriage or someone is at fault. More than likely, absent a prenuptial agreement, pension benefits, retirement funds and other investments are likely to be cut in half. At the very least, you and your ex will face operating two households with no increase in savings.

Residential property, which is often the ultimate investment, is also probably going to have to be sold and the proceeds divided, which can mean giving up the family home. A spouse may have a hard time letting go of a property that's been their long-time home, especially if they raised children there. If that's so, it's sometimes possible for one spouse to "buy out" the other's interest in the property, but it can be harder to get financing in your senior years when you're nearly or already retired.

3.) If you remarry after your divorce, get a prenuptial agreement and a will.

Whether you always planned to remarry after the divorce or it just happens, get a prenuptial agreement. Failing to do so can end up causing a lot of division among adult children, who may be worried what will happen to your original engagement ring once you pass away or who will inherit treasured keepsakes from your original marriage and their childhood.

A prenuptial agreement can also keep your retirement funds and pension from being further divided up should your second marriage fail as well.

If you're considering a divorce after age 50, talk to an attorney today about the things that you need to consider that are unique to your situation. To learn more, speak with someone like Harold Salant Strassfield & Spielberg.