The Unique Considerations Presented By ‘gray Divorce’

Divorce is difficult at any age, but it can prove to be especially painful for older couples calling it quits after decades of marriage.

That’s because outside of purely sentimental issues, divorces involving older couples typically involve much higher financial stakes given that the parties have had so many years to accumulate assets and allow their investments to grow.

While you might think divorce between spouses age 50 and over — known as “gray divorce” in some circles — is relatively uncommon, recently released data suggests otherwise.

Indeed, a landmark study by researchers at Bowling Green State University determined that the rate of gray divorce doubled between 1990 and 2010, and that a whopping 48 percent of these divorces involved couples in their first marriage.

Given that the number of gray divorces is on the rise, legal experts have identified several issues that these baby boomers will likely want to keep in mind moving forward.

The marital home

The thought of losing the marital home, the place where either spouse lived for decades, making memories and raising kids, may simply be too much to bear. Consequently, a spouse may make the decision to keep the marital home.

Legal experts, however, urge people in these situations to keep in mind that in equitable distribution states like New Jersey, assets will be divided in a manner deemed fair by the presiding judge.

While this doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 split, there is a good chance that these older couples will be on similar financial footing, such that if one spouse elects to keep the house, the court will indeed take action to balance out the other spouse’s interest in the marital home. This could take the form of the spouse keeping the home forfeiting a portion of cash payments or retirement accounts, or accepting a smaller alimony payment.

According to legal experts, this reality, coupled with the costs of home ownership (maintenance, property taxes, etc.), should give any divorcing boomer pause.

We’ll continue to discuss this topic in our next post.

Date Published: March 1, 2017

Written by: Cooper Levenson, P.A.

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