Couples over 50 who decide that the remainder of their lives should be spent apart undergo a gray divorce. This official separation can get messy between assets and alimony. In many cases, these couples have been married for several decades and acquired a particular lifestyle they want to maintain.
Alimony as maintenance
Unlike divorces among younger couples, alimony payments for older couples are often permanent and meant to last for the remainder of that person’s life. At this stage, alimony is meant to be a maintenance cost, allowing one spouse to continue maintaining the lifestyle they are accustomed to.
At this stage, the spouse receiving prospective alimony is most likely not returning to work or will not likely make large purchases. Accordingly, all maintenance costs will include a combination of the following:
- Remaining debt balances
- Maintenance expenses for properties
Depending on what type of maintenance is required for each spouse, alimony could be required for one or more of the aforementioned items.
Depending on what type of assets each party acquires in the divorce, the need for alimony may be absolved based on the distribution of the assets. Since it is possible that both parties will not generate a substantial income and could be living off of retirement incomes, alimony could be distributed differently.
Since retirement accounts are considered assets, depending on how they are split during mediation can determine if the other party is eligible for alimony. If the account is divided equally, then alimony may not be required.
Considering financial impacts
When a couple separates in a gray divorce, they do not have the same potential lifespan to recover from losing a portion of their assets. This scenario can be more detrimental than divorces that occur within the first decade of marriage. The retirement account set aside for this period could be cut in half and require each person to seek out other means of income.
Supporting adult children
If one or both spouses in the marriage have been supporting adult children that require care due to an illness or disability, alimony distribution will take this factor into account. If one of the parents in the divorce has been supported financially by their children, alimony distribution may be impacted.