While more marriages end in divorce than in the past, there is one age group out-pacing the others. These are the Baby Boomers. Divorce among the fifty-five and up demographic has more than doubled in the past twenty years and remained so ever since.
This upward trend has led divorce lawyers to name these divorces and the special considerations that come with them “gray divorces.”
What are the Different Needs in a Gray Divorce?
The spouses in gray divorces face different issues than younger spouses seeking a divorce. Generally, spouses over fifty-five are not concerned with the custody of minor children or child support, and they have substantially more assets than younger couples.
Parties at or nearer retirement age place greater priority on financial security when during divorce negotiations and litigation. There are important reasons for these spouses to do so. Studies have shown that men who divorce after the age of fifty have income reductions of approximately 21%, with women experiencing a 45% loss in income.
Identify All of the Assets
In a gray divorce, spouses may be leaving long-term marriages where assets have accumulated over a span of decades. It will be necessary to identify all assets that were acquired during the marriage. This is any property with value including, but not limited to:
- Income and compensation packages
- Real estate
- Life insurance
- Household goods
If any of these were acquired by one spouse before marriage or were a gift or bequest to one spouse, they are likely separate property and not divisible during the divorce.
Value or Have the Assets Appraised
All marital assets will need appraising before the marital estate can be divided. It is essential these are valued expertly, and any tax consequences of division are considered. This is especially true when it comes to retirement accounts and pensions.
Retirement accounts need to be split by the plan administrator using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. Spouses may opt to keep the money whole until the plan holder retires, receive a lump sum payment, or roll their part of the account into another qualified retirement account.
Social Security May be an Asset
If a marriage lasted more than ten years, the woman might be able to take advantage of the man’s Social Security benefits at retirement. If her earnings history amounts to less than half of his, she can opt to receive an amount equal to half of his Social Security.
This does not affect his benefits, even if he remarries.
Consider the Estate Plan
Lastly, consider the estate plan. All life insurance policies, wills, and trusts need revisiting upon divorce. An ex-spouse may remain a beneficiary of certain assets, these could pass directly to adult children, or another heir may be named.
Contact an Experienced California Attorney
This is certainly not an exhaustive list of critical issues in a gray divorce. That is why it is vital you contact and retain an experienced Los Angeles divorce lawyer with the knowledge and resources to handle your marital estate.
A competent, skilled family law attorney at Fernandez & Karney will do more than help you identify and value your marital assets. They will assist you in dividing complex assets and notify you of potential tax consequences prior to entering into a final settlement.
Contact Fernandez & Karney now to protect your legal rights and ensure your financial future in a California gray divorce.