Known as gray divorces, incidents of couples over 50 divorcing are on the rise. There are several reasons for the increasing number of older adults who choose to divorce, ranging from empty nest syndrome to simply growing apart over the years. Since people are living longer (the Social Security Administration estimates one out of every ten 65-year-olds will live past the age of 95), some people simply want to try something different in the later years of their lives.
Whatever the reason, protecting your assets during a gray divorce is important, just as with a divorce at any age. The difference is that many gray divorces are between people who have been together many years, so their assets may be more complex.
Methods of gray divorce
Divorce can be emotional and stressful, especially after many years of marriage. The type of divorce you decide on should be the one that best fits your unique circumstances. Of course, the better the two parties can agree, the quicker and less complicated the divorce proceedings.
Divorces can go in many directions, including:
- Uncontested: Both spouses agree to the divorce terms, including the division of property.
- Contested: Spouses cannot agree and decide to let a judge rule on the terms of the divorce.
- Mediated: An outside mediator is hired to help negotiate the terms of the divorce.
- Arbitrated: The divorce terms are decided by an arbitrator in lieu of a judge.
- Default: If one spouse does not respond to the court summons, a divorce may be granted by default.
There are many assets that should be taken into account in any gray divorce.
If one or both members of the divorcing couple owns a business and their ownership stake is not explicitly spelled out, it can be complicated to divide the asset. Some questions to ask are:
- Did one spouse’s family business own the business before the marriage?
- Did both parties work for the business?
- Did they start or purchase the business after the marriage began?
Without dependent children, spousal support can be questioned if both parties are reaching retirement age. An attorney or mediator can help to decide if spousal support is applicable.
Division of assets
If the marriage has lasted for many years, there may have been a considerable accumulation of assets. Take into account all assets when deciding on the division of property, including retirement plans and pensions, jewelry, furniture and artwork of value, and so on.