When thinking about marriage in the old days, most people pictured it as black and white as the plastic groom and bride statues on the top of the wedding cake. You stayed with one marriage partner “until death do us part” and so traditionally, most saw the end of the marriage through death, some spouses perhaps too young to pass. But for marriages lasting into the Golden Years, the United States has seen a significant boom in “gray divorces,” people over 50 getting divorced and often moving on to second and third marriages.
Gray divorces often bring serious financial issues in their wake when the time comes to divide assets. A couple that lives for years together tends to accumulate marital assets like pensions, Social Security benefits and other retirement funds. They also may have shared property or properties that cannot be maintained by either spouse on a single income — often a retirement income. “Getting the house” in a gray divorce may be more of burden than a blessing to a retired spouse who then has to sell the asset, often in a distressed real estate market. Supporting a retired spouse’s lifestyle may prove economically untenable for the contributing spouse, especially if they are retired.
Gray divorces require significant thought and planning as well as expert counseling if they are to proceed smoothly. In addition, if and when it becomes evident that the marriage will not continue, divorcing couples should seek an experienced family law attorney to help pave the way for a successful segue into the next phase of their lives.
If you are contemplating a gray divorce, consider speaking to a divorce attorney for more information about divorcing later in life.