Some things in life get easier as you get older. However, that is not necessarily true if you decide to end your marriage. The older you are and the longer your marriage lasted, the harder divorce proceedings often become.
A gray divorce is a divorce between adults who are close to, at or already past the age of retirement. Such divorces have different considerations than divorces earlier in life.
Most of your property may be marital
The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that you and your spouse accumulated marital property. Chances are the parties to a long-term marriage will have amassed far more marital property than a marriage that lasted but a few years. That’s both good and bad. It’s good because there will be more marital assets to go around but bad because there will more assets to fight over. Anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage is marital property subject to equitable distribution. The exception to this rule is property inherited by one spouse, property received by one spouse as a gift from a third party, property the parties agreed is not marital, or any item of property that is directly traceable to any of these sources.
Divorce can impact Social Security benefits
Especially for older couples, it is common for one spouse to have worked longer or earned far more than the other. If your spouse stayed at home or earned far more than you, there may be a big gap in your Social Security benefits. The spouse with no Social Security retirement benefits or lower benefits can, if they meet certain criteria, make a claim against their spouse’s accrued benefits and/or request an award of alimony.
Your retirement savings will take a hit
The closer you are to the age of retirement, the less time you will have to rebuild your savings. Realistically, you may have to accept a lower standard of living if you divorce close to retirement or have to continue working for a longer period than you would have if you had stayed married.
Understanding the unique considerations of a gray divorce can make it easier for you to navigate this complex process, especially when it comes to dividing your property and retirement assets.