If you’re an older American going through a divorce, your situation is what’s commonly referred to as a “gray divorce.” Specifically, a “gray” divorce is a divorce involving people who are 50 or older.
Although you grew up during a time when divorce was less common, the Baby Boomer divorce rate is on the rise. According to Pew Research data reported by the Associated Press, as many as 10 out of 1,000 people ages 50 or older are divorced – a 100% increase in this age group since 1990. It’s worth noting, though, that this age group now includes much of Generation X.
Regardless of which generation you’re a part of, though, there are several important considerations to take into account during a gray divorce. Keep reading, and we’ll explain some of these in greater detail.
Asset Division & Retirement Accounts
All divorces in California involve a division of the spouses’ combined assets. As a community property state, California requires that each spouse is awarded 50% of the marital estate in a divorce. In most cases, this will involve dividing up savings accounts, personal property, vehicles, real estate, and investments.
Gray divorces can include all of these assets and more, but property of particular concern are retirement accounts. Just as with any other asset, even 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement savings accounts are subject to equal division. It doesn’t matter whether only one spouse’s name is on the account or if only one spouse contributed to it – if assets within these accounts were acquired or commingled during the marriage, they are likely subject to equal property division.
In other words, it’s likely that the nest egg you and your spouse were saving up for retirement will get cracked in half.
Spousal Support Probably Won’t Have an End Date
If you and your spouse were married for 10 or more years, your marriage will be treated as a long-term marriage. When long-term marriages end in divorce, any spouse support granted typically probably won’t be given an end date. This means that spousal support payments and obligations won’t end until either spouse remarries or dies.
That said, nothing is guaranteed in any divorce case. If you are concerned about spousal support in your gray divorce, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney who can provide legal guidance.
Keeping Your Home Means Sacrificing Something Else
If one spouse cares more about keeping the home in the divorce, they might just get it. That said, they might have to give up something of similar value. Keeping a home can mean sacrificing one’s share of retirement savings and other assets, or getting smaller spousal support payments.
It’s important to remember that a home is expensive to maintain and shouldn’t be sought as a “prize” in a divorce. If you truly value the home you and your spouse lived in and can afford its upkeep, mortgage (if not paid off), and taxes, then it might be worth fighting for.
Alternatively, spouses in a gray divorce might agree to sell their home and split the proceeds from the sale.
You May Be Entitled to Social Security Benefits on Your Ex’s Record
If you have been divorced for at least two continuous years, you can receive Social Security benefits on your ex-spouse’s record as long as you otherwise qualify for them.
It’s important to note that receiving benefits this way doesn’t decrease or change what your ex-spouse can receive from Social Security.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
If you have more questions about gray divorce or require legal assistance with yours, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced and qualified divorce attorney. Our lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLP have assisted clients in a variety of divorce settings, helping them achieve their goals and the best possible outcomes.
For more information, get in touch with us today by contacting us online.