Gray Divorces And Its Special Considerations
When aging couples decide to divorce, this is known as a “gray divorce”. Older individuals often have different issues to deal with during a divorce process as compared to individuals of other age categories. The following are the special considerations.
For younger individuals, the most expensive asset they own is often the family home, while the most expensive asset for older individuals is a retirement account. This situation can be problematic because someone may have felt confident that there were adequate funds to retire and then when this time approaches suddenly realize that the account can be split in half. Additionally, spouses have less time to re-accumulate wealth with more limited years to continue work. This sometimes causes spouses to continue working well past their originally anticipated retirement age.
For marriages that involve younger couples, spousal support may not be ordered by the court because the marriage has not lasted for a long period of time, or a temporary spousal support may be granted but only for a specific period of time. If older couples have been married for a significant period of time, spousal support may be more likely to be ordered. Additionally, this more often takes the form of permanent alimony. Some spouses respond to this by offering to award a greater share of their pension or retirement account to eliminate or reduce a spousal support obligation.
Another option is sometimes to forfeit an interest in an asset of significant value such as the family home in order to reduce or eliminate the amount of spousal support to be paid. But consequently, these types of arrangements can have tax consequences, so spouses need to be careful before entering into an agreement before knowing the real financial value of these arrangements.
Except if the spouses had at least some children in later life, child support is not typically an issue. If it is, it is usually limited to the last few years of teenagers. However, child support may be an issue if a parent is requesting post-majority support, such as for college expenses or if the parents have a child with disabilities who needs ongoing financial support.
In gray divorces, visitation and custody issues with their children often times is not a factor, however, considerations regarding grandchildren may be. Contentious spouses may have to learn how to co-grandparent. Grandparent rights vary from one jurisdiction to another. Many states assume that the parent is acting in the child’s best interests and will limit a grandparent’s right to visit with a child if the parent does not believe it is in the child’s best interests. Other states look at the nature of the relationship between the grandparent and child to make this determination.
Older spouses may be more dependent on Social Security benefits, Medicaid, and Medicare because of depleted retirement funds. Usually, spouses are entitled to draw Social Security off of their spouse’s earnings record provided that they do not remarry, were married ten years or more and are not eligible for a higher benefit off of their own earnings record.
It is common that older individuals are more likely to deal with medical issues and concerned about acquiring the service of a caregiver. A spouse may have fulfilled this role, and new arrangements may be necessary. This may take the form of an additional expense, further straining the budget. Divorcing spouses may include information related to health insurance, caregiving and long-term care insurance in their divorce decrees.
Mediation is more agreeable for older spouses than younger couples as the latter is embroiled in a dispute over their children. This step involves a neutral individual who will assist in facilitating communication between the spouses, identifies issues that need to be resolved and guides them toward settlement.