If you’re a Baby Boomer, you grew up in an era when
divorce was far rarer than it is today. A lot has changed since you first said
your wedding vows. In the 1960s and 1970s, most women were stay-at-home
mothers, but nowadays it’s “normal” to have a two-income
household and that alone has affected the divorce rate. In your parent’s
generation, divorce was practically unheard of and today, divorce affects
about half of all first marriages, according to the
American Psychological Association.
Coined “gray divorce” by researchers at
Bowling Green State University, dissolving a marriage in your 50s, 60s and beyond is no longer frowned
upon by society. In fact, sociologists at BGSU discovered that between
1990 and 2010, the divorce rate for the 50 and over crowd doubled. “A
recent study indicates that the divorce rate among those ages 50 and older
doubled since 1990,” according to
Age Variation in the Divorce Rate, 1990-2010. If you’re a Baby Boomer who’s getting a divorce, here’s
a list of some important things you should know.
1. California is a community property state.
In the United States, there are two methods of dividing marital property:
equitable distribution and community property. California follows the
community property model, which means each spouse is entitled to
half of all assets acquired during the course of the marriage. It does not matter who earned
the money or whose name is on title – both spouses are entitled
to 50 percent interest in the asset.
2. Spousal support is typically granted in long-term marriages.
Spousal support is often granted in long-term marriages, which is a marriage that lasted
10 or more years. “When a marriage or partnership is considered
a ‘long-term’ marriage or partnership (usually 10 years or
more), the judge may not set an end date to the spousal or partner support,”
according to the
However, this does not guarantee that spousal support is automatic; the
judge has discretion and it depends on the facts of the case. Before rendering
a decision, the judge will examine the standard of living enjoyed during
the marriage, each spouse’s assets and income, the need for support
and the higher-earning spouse’s ability to pay it. In a nutshell,
if one or both spouses are working, it’s customary for spousal support
to play some role in a gray divorce.
3. Your nest egg will probably be cut in half.
California is a no-fault divorce state, so the judge will not care if
one spouse was responsible for the divorce. In other words, fault will
not be a factor in the division of marital assets. So, if you and your
spouse have saved a nice nest egg for retirement, expect those assets
to be split evenly.
4. You may have to go back to work.
If you do not have a comfortable retirement and you’ve been relying
on your spouse’s 8 to 5 job for support, you may have to go back
to work. Unless you plan on moving in with adult children and living off
Social Security, divorce may plunge you back into the workforce.
5. To keep the house, you’ll have to give something else up.
In our experience, many women are eager to keep the house; they treat
it as a “prize” in the divorce process. Whether you’re
the husband or wife, keeping the house means you’ll have to give
something else up. If you’re the wife, that could mean a smaller
alimony payment or your husband could take a greater share of the retirement
accounts. Before trying to keep the house, ask yourself: “Can I
afford the mortgage, maintenance and property taxes?” Often, it
makes more sense to sell the house and split the proceeds.
6. Your divorce still may affect adult children.
Just because your children are grown, it does not necessarily mean they
won’t be affected. Fortunately, you won’t have to deal with
child support and single parenthood, but your kids still may have a hard
time with the divorce. While you don’t need to overshare your reasons
for divorce, it is appropriate to give them a reasonable explanation.
By doing so, your children can make sense of it all. If you are financially
supporting adult children, this may need to be modified or terminated
after the divorce based on your finances.
7. You may be lonely, but don’t begin dating until you’re divorced.
When older people get a divorce, it can feel very isolating; therefore,
it can be great to engage in distractions, such as caring for grandchildren,
volunteering, joining a health club, travelling, playing golf, taking
on a part-time job, taking a new class, or attending community events.
However, it can be a grave mistake to enter a new relationship before
the divorce is final. Dating amid a divorce is not recommended; it does
not help the situation. Instead, it can upset adult children and grandchildren,
and anger your spouse and increase the time and expense of your divorce.
8. If you remarry, get a prenuptial agreement.
If you do fall in love again and remarry, be sure to get a prenuptial
agreement the second time around. This way, you can ensure adult children
receive certain assets and you can clearly outline which assets are to
remain separate should your remarriage end in divorce. Our position is
that whenever someone gets married in their senior years, they should
get a prenuptial agreement. This shields them in the event of a divorce.
may be entitled to Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s record.
We sincerely hope the above information helps you. If you’re looking for a
Los Angeles divorce attorney to handle your gray divorce,
contact our office
According to the
Social Security Administration, “If you are divorced, but your marriage lasted 10 years or longer,
you can receive benefits on your ex-spouse’s record (even if they
have remarried).” This is true if: you are not remarried, you are
at least 62, your former spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement
or disability benefits, and your Social Security benefit would be less
than your former spouse’s benefit.