Silver or Gray Divorce

Silver or Gray Divorce

Scottsdale “Gray” Divorce Attorneys

Are You over 50 and Contemplating a Divorce?

silver gray divorce attorney scottsdale arizonaEven though divorce is most common during the early years of a marriage, divorces for couples over the age of 50 are on the rise. Many couples are now deciding to divorce after 20, 30 or even 40 years of marriage, and the phenomenon is being referred to as “silver” or “gray” divorce. As a result, a gray divorce brings its own unique set of issues that must be taken into consideration and dealt with.

Division of assets is part of any divorce proceeding, however, this can cause unique problems for both partners in a gray divorce. In one’s senior years, the ability to generate income may have already decreased or completely diminished. Which means that the fixed assets, Social Security benefits, and savings will be at the center of attention during the divorce process.

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In this scenario, both parties may be at risk of not having enough money to live life the way they are accustomed to. For example, many times one party will want to keep the marital home after a divorce, but if it has a mortgage and/or significant upkeep and maintenance, it may be impossible for one spouse or the other to pay for it on their own. It may also be impractical, particularly if both parties are retired and living on a fixed income, to refinance and/or otherwise buy the other spouse out of their share of the equity in the home.

If you are already retired and receive retirement benefits or pension payments, it is important to know how your benefits will be affected by a divorce, which may include a reduction in the actual monies you receive as the result of a division with the other spouse.

Social Security benefits also work in very specific ways for divorcing couples. As a person over the age of 65 and on Social Security benefits, your spouse may be able to collect based on your work record if such history was more substantial than theirs and your marriage lasted 10 years or longer.

Pursuant to the Social Security Administration, you can receive benefits based on your spouse’s work record if:

  • You are unmarried
  • You are age 62 or older
  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • The benefit you are entitled to receive based on your own work record is less than the benefit you would receive based on your ex-spouse’s work record

Although spousal maintenance or alimony is often an issue with long-term marriages, such spousal support with older, retired couples, living on fixed incomes or ones rapidly approaching retirement age can be tricky especially if one or both parties have any significant health issues. The Courts often find that typical practices for thinking about and awarding spousal maintenance may not apply in these situations and that other factors may play a role, these factors include: the ability of the paying spouse to meet their own financial needs with fixed or diminishing income and the availability of Medicare and other supplemental low-cost benefits to the spouse seeking assistance, which may gain greater weight in their analysis for awarding such support in gray divorces.

Finally, the relationship between your children and grandchildren can change. Even though gray divorces often don’t involve child custody issues, due to the age of the children, it can still change the relationship you have with your now adult children. It may also change your ability to see your grandchildren. If the marital split is particularly messy, you may end up with a fight just to see your own grandchildren.