The end of a marriage can be a troubling time, and this is especially true when the marriage has been one of long duration. Unfortunately, so-called “gray divorces”-those involving older couples–are on the rise. In the past twenty years, according to a study, gray divorces have doubled to one in four couples. This increase has led some financial planning experts to suggest that women over fifty become more involved in family finances prior to a divorce. Alimony and retirement accounts can be of primary importance in gray divorces. Child custody and support issues are less likely as any children from the marriage are usually grown.
In most gray divorces the couple will not be able to rebuild retirement accounts because they will soon be retired or are already retired at the time of the divorce. In some instances, if the woman is a lower-wage earner or did not work outside the home, she may be able to obtain spousal support.
“Gray couples” tend to have more property than younger couples. When an older couple breaks up it is more likely to be a high asset divorce. Property division can lead to complicated disputes. Absent an agreement between the parties, the court will divide the assets as equitably and fairly as possible given the circumstances of the marriage. This situation can sometimes seem somewhat disadvantageous to a lower-earning spouse but the court has the ability to award alimony (which has been the subject of recent controversy in Florida) in situations it deems appropriate to ensure the goal of fairness is achieved.
Divorce does not have to be contentious when the parties have a clear understanding of their needs and goals. An experienced family law attorney can help a party determine what the needs and goals of the party are and help pursue them in the divorce settlement process.
Source: Financial Advisor, “Women Need Advisors’ Guidance Before Divorce Strikes, Expert Says,” Sept. 16, 2013