A gray divorce refers to couples who decide to part ways over the age of 50, generally following a long-term marriage.
There are myriad reasons for a gray divorce, including an empty nest, financial disagreements, or disagreements about what you’d like to do in retirement. Whatever the reason, you want to know how to get through the process quickly and with your dignity intact.
You may share grown children, property, retirement plans, or businesses. Considering your shared history, it might be wise to consider how to go through the divorce process without destroying the shared family connections both spouses cherish.
1. Collaborative Divorce can help maintain positive family relationships.
Collaborative divorce can be a great option for couples with long-term marriages because it focuses on restructuring the family instead of destroying the family. Many couples seeking a gray divorce have adult children, grandchildren, and extended family whom they love and wish to continue spending time with. It is important to remain amicable in order to continue attending special events such as weddings, graduations, and holidays.
Finding a less adversarial method for divorce can help you maintain positive relationships with your extended family in the future. In Collaborative Divorce you and your spouse agree to settle all issues outside court with the help of your attorneys, divorce coaches, financial neutral, and resource specialists.
2. Gray divorces may have different financial considerations than divorces between younger couples.
After many years of marriage, you and your spouse have likely amassed substantial assets and debts. In California, a community property state, everything earned or acquired during the marriage will be considered community property with exceptions for gifts and inheritances. Long-term marriages often have a more complicated financial picture including businesses, real property, insurance policies, and college payments made for young adult children. If your case has a complicated financial story, working with a financial specialist can help you value your assets, debts, retirements, and business interests.
Retirement is an important issue in a gray divorce, as you may be looking toward retiring in the near future.
It is important to note whether a retirement benefit was earned entirely during the marriage, or if you were contributing to the retirement before you married or after the date of separation. Also, there are different ways to divide retirements depending on the type of retirement account you hold. An IRA, for example, can be rolled over into another IRA for your spouse without a tax penalty during the divorce. Other types of retirements may require division via a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. In a gray divorce couples are also likely to be looking at Social Security, and whether they will claim their own benefits or use their spouse’s benefits. For spouses who remained primarily in the home, having the option to use their spouse’s benefits can be very helpful.
If you are looking to dissolve a long-term marriage with dignity, you might consider choosing a less adversarial method, like Collaborative Divorce, to maintain your family connections as well as protect your financial future.
Katharine Biwott is a solo practitioner dedicated to the practice of family law issues including divorce, legal separations, child custody, child support, spousal support, and domestic violence restraining orders. She serves clients in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado counties. Her personal attention helps her clients feel supported as they navigate challenging times. Katharine is committed to successful outcomes for her clients whether it is through settlement or litigation. She earned a Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor from the University of Oregon and joined the California Bar in 2016. For more information please visit: http://www.biwottlaw.com