“Gray divorces” on the rise

It may surprise many to learn that the divorce rate for couples over the age of 50 has more than doubled during the past two decades, according to research done at Bowling Green University. Interestingly, these later-in-life divorces – otherwise known as “gray divorces” – have been increasing during a time when the overall divorce rate has been falling.

Similar to other states, California is no stranger to divorce, but some may find it unusual that couples married for years – often decades – just decide out of the blue to call it quits.

However, this relatively recent phenomenon often occurs as older couples reach retirement age and question whether or not they want to spend the remainder of their lives with their partner. With their children often grown and moved out, older couples discover that they are not the same people that married years before.

In addition, financial concerns that may have been a deterrent to splitting in the past are less likely to stop older couples from separating as they generally have better financial footing than younger couples. Consequently, older couples who elect to get divorced generally face very different hurdles than their younger counterparts.

Legal considerations during a gray divorce

Since the children of older couples are generally already out of the nest, child support is usually not a contention during a gray divorce. However, given the fact that couples are generally more financially established later in life, their property division can be complex if they ever choose to split. For example, older California couples who divorce have to not only consider traditional assets like homes and cars, but also retirement funds such as IRAs, 401ks and pensions.

Couples need to determine how these assets will be apportioned. For example, with IRAs a percentage can be transferred to the other spouse without taxation. Also, since these assets are not entirely liquid, careful planning and negotiations will be needed to protect everyone’s assets and interests.

Another asset more prevalent owned among older couples is real property or businesses. Not only will older couples likely have more equity in their primary home – or possibly completely paid off – but they are also more apt to own vacation homes or businesses. These are additional assets that can be quite complex when dividing during a divorce.

As this article illustrates, older couples considering a divorce often have very different concerns than younger couples. These concerns can be quite difficult to sort through without the help of an attorney. Consequently, if you are contemplating a divorce that will involve complex property division, it is important to speak with an experienced San Diego, CA divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected.