Much has been written lately on the “Grey Divorce” – a term used to describe (nicely or not so nicely) parties over the age of 50 who are getting divorced. Here are some ways that skilled divorce attorneys approach the so called Grey Divorce compared to other more ‘traditional’ divorce scenarios:
• Grey divorces are not necessarily more expensive. The cost of a divorce is primarily driven by time spent in court, conflict between the spouses, unreasonable attorneys or parties, and assets which are more complex to value (such as businesses that need to be valued and pensions, verses bank accounts that can be easily divided).
• Child related issues rarely need to be dealt with – custody, parenting time, child support, etc. rarely come into play in a grey divorce, as the majority of the time the children are already fully grown and emancipated. However, there may be issues that need to be addressed during the divorce pertaining to outstanding debt associated with the child(ren)’s education, including parent plus loans and/or one or both of the parties being listed as a co-signer on student loans.
• There may be significant assets to divide. If the parties have been married for a long period of time they may have accumulated a lot of “stuff” as well as significant financial assets (including retirement accounts and property) during their marriage.
• Pensions and Social Security may need to be considered. In addition to any retirement accounts either party has accumulated, one or both of the parties may have received a pension (which may or may not be in payment status at the time of the divorce). When dividing the pension of a party to divorce, it is imperative to consider the social security benefits which both of the parties may be (or may not be) entitled to, as well as the option chosen by the recipient.
• Parties to a grey divorce are often at the peak of their earning potential or already retired. Both of these circumstances create legal challenges regarding the interplay of division of assets and/or spousal support. Typically, neither party to a grey divorce has much opportunity to begin a new career or advance their current career much further.
• Financial “need” is especially important to weigh in grey divorces. Oftentimes, retirement assets are insufficient to fund the retirements of both parties and/or the spousal support payor is near or past retirement age. In these cases, alimony and spousal support decisions are extra important.
• The date that alimony should terminate may not be clear. The issue of the length or termination date of an alimony obligation can be more complicated for parties divorcing when one or both of them are close to, or in some cases beyond, full retirement age.