The decision to divorce is often a hard one. Even the most amicable splits can have challenges, especially if there are children involved. But the latest divorce trends have nothing to do with young people or couples who haven’t been married long. It’s folks in their parents’ generation who are increasingly deciding to get divorced.
A later-in-life, or “gray,” divorce is when a couple over the age of 50 decides to end their marriage and go through the divorce process. Everyday Health recently reported that later-in-life divorces are on the rise across the United States. In fact, a study released by the National Center for Biotechnology Information stated that “more than one in three” people going through a divorce are over 50 years old.
Reasons why couples may be divorcing later in life
There are many reasons why couples may decide to divorce later in life after spending several years or decades with their partners. Each couple’s situation is different, but some of the most common reasons for gray divorces are:
- There is no longer a stigma or negative thoughts surrounding divorces.
- Couples decided to wait until their children became adults to divorce.
- There have been changes in expectations or general changes in the couple’s life or personalities.
- The couple is going through a midlife crisis.
- Someone cheated in the marriage.
- Money or financial problems have emerged.
Six considerations for a later-in-life divorce
Most attorneys will tell you that the longer you have been married, the more challenges and roadblocks you may experience in the divorce proceedings. We are no different. Our San Antonio divorce lawyers have identified six specific issues that could pose challenges for clients aged 50 or older who are seeking to end their marriage:
- Dividing assets: When it comes to any type of divorce, dividing assets is always the most complicated issue. Texas is a community property state, which means that every penny you or your spouse earns throughout the duration of the marriage will be divided equally among you both. Therefore, in long-term, gray divorces with a long-term marriage, dividing assets can become a long, difficult, and taxing process. The reason for this is because you must prove what is community property and separate property, which can be very hard when the marriage lasted so long and you both built your life together with many different valuables and assets.
- Retirement accounts: Those divisible assets can include your retirement, 401k accounts, and pension plans, which are a big part of gray divorces. There is a good chance that your spouse will be entitled to at least half of the money you have saved for your retirement. Your attorney will most likely recommend that you seek a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), which is a legal order that changes who owns your retirement plan and will give you and your spouse your fair share of the assets in the retirement accounts.
- Spousal maintenance: If one spouse was a homemaker or took care of the home and children for most of the marriage, they may seek spousal maintenance in Texas. The court will look at all factors before determining how much alimony will be awarded. For example, in later-in-life divorces, some people may be too old to try to find jobs and get back on their feet after divorce. Therefore, you may be required to provide permanent spousal support to ensure that your spouse will be able to maintain the same standard of living and care that they were receiving during the marriage.
- Inheritances and gifts: The law in Texas states that gifts and inheritances given to only one spouse are separate property. Your gifts and inheritances will not be split equally among you and your spouse. However, you will need to have clear and obvious proof that the gifts and inheritances only belong to you.
- Social Security: If you are going through a gray divorce, it is important that you know that you may be able to qualify for better Social Security benefits based on your new circumstances. For example, if you earned less than your spouse, you may be able to notify the Social Security Administration and let them know that you no longer want your benefits based on your spouse’s earning history. But you should also know that you could be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s Social Security payments, too. We can talk more about what the best options are for you and your financial situation.
- Your will: Lastly, it is highly recommended that you look over your will and estate plan, and update them after going through a divorce. Your spouse may have been listed as your beneficiary or the person who receives your important assets, but now you may need to choose another family member or loved one to receive these items.
If you are going through a divorce later in life and need legal assistance, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the San Antonio divorce lawyers at Grable Grimshaw, PLLC at your earliest opportunity. We are ready and prepared to lend you a helping hand to ensure that you understand everything going on with your case, as well as the necessary steps that you should take going forward. Call our office or submit our contact form today to schedule your consultation and to learn about the ways we can alleviate the stresses and frustrations that come with later-in-life divorces.