You may have never heard the term “gray divorce” before, but it is a phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common nowadays. Gray divorce describes divorce among couples who have generally been together 20 years or more and are age 50 or older.
Given the particular nature of couples involved in gray divorces, there are certain issues that pertain more to their divorces than to divorces between younger couples. Here are three common topics you should be aware of surrounding gray divorces, especially if you are facing one yourself.
1. Retirement accounts can be an issue
Many couples going through a gray divorce have already raised their children and some have already retired. In cases of divorces between couples age 50 and over, retirement accounts are often a point of contention. Every state has different ways of dividing up assets among divorcing couples, and retirement accounts are an important financial asset. It is possible that 401(K) plans and individual retirement accounts may have to be divided at divorce. This is a complex matter, and the couple should seek the assistance of a qualified divorce attorney to help navigate the challenges.
2. High-asset divorces bring special challenges
Oftentimes, gray divorces involve a significant asset portfolio because one or both of the spouses has reached retirement or has had several decades to amass property and savings, not to mention investment accounts or other wealth. High-asset divorces are particularly challenging because both spouses want to ensure they have a secure financial future. Sometimes, one spouse will try to hide assets. In these cases, a skilled attorney may employ the services of a forensic accountant who can help in asset discovery.
3. Spousal support requirements
In many gray divorces, children are already grown and of adult age, so child custody and child support are not issues. However, spousal support can still be an important financial impact to consider. If you are the higher earner in the couple, you may have to pay spousal support. If you were the lower-earning spouse or do not work, you may seek spousal support. In either case, it is important to find a family law divorce attorney who understands the nature of a gray divorce and how to apply spousal support in these cases.