Divorce is an emotionally and mentally strenuous process at any age, but often the longer a couple has been together, the more complex the divorce can become. The term “gray divorce” refers to a divorce that occurs in an older couple, typically over the age of 50, who have been married for a long period of time. Studies have shown that gray divorces are on the rise. For older couples who may be considering divorce, it is important to pay attention to certain factors that may need to be addressed to ensure that both parties receive an equitable settlement.
While younger couples typically do not have substantial funding in their retirement accounts, this is often untrue for older couples. Retirement accounts can add an additional, complex element to divorce asset division. It is possible that a retirement fund is required to be divided or split to supply one party with financial support. In some cases, if both individuals have similarly valued retirement accounts, they may be able to maintain their separate accounts rather than split them up. However, the exact outcome will depend on many factors in each couple’s specific financial situation.
When couples have been married for a long period of time, it is more likely that they have acquired significant property and assets together. This might include a home and land, financial accounts like checking and savings, or material possessions such as furniture or collectibles. Generally, all of these assets are considered marital property in California if they are purchased or acquired after the marriage papers were officiated. Divorcing couples may want to consider creating a list of all shared assets and properties and how they might desire to divide them to help make their goals and intentions clear.
Spousal support, or spousal maintenance, refers to funds that are paid to someone by their ex-spouse after their divorce is finalized. This is sometimes referred to as alimony. While this might not be as common in younger couples who were not married for extended periods of time, for those going through a gray divorce, it is more likely to be ordered. It could be either temporary or take on the form of permanent alimony, which involves making financial payments towards the other party until the end of their life, regardless of whether the payer retires or is living on social security.
As couples age, it becomes more common for one spouse to provide healthcare to the other partner, as medical issue frequency rises with age. When one party takes on the role of a caregiver, further consideration is required to ensure that the ill spouse is properly cared for post-divorce. This process could involve hiring another caregiver for them, thus acting as an additional expense in the divorce.
During a gray divorce, it is important to consider updating one’s estate planning documents. This prevents inheritance from being awarded to the former spouse or their family instead of desired beneficiaries when the party passes away. Further, estates may need to be updated to reflect each party’s assets after the division of property that ensued from the divorce.
Divorces can be complex and lengthy processes that involve significant work and a good understanding of the legal system. To help ensure that you receive fair treatment and an equitable settlement, consider hiring an experienced divorce lawyer like those at Miranda, Magden & Miranda. Contact us to speak to an attorney today about gray divorce and how we can best help you.
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