As couples age and the children go away to college or start families of their own, many find they no longer want to stay married. While the reasons for this phenomenon, known as gray divorce, are wide-ranging, the concerns of gray divorce are similar for many.
What are a few major concerns of gray divorce?
Divorce after age 50 varies from divorce at a younger age in many ways. Priorities are different, and often include substantial retirement savings and equity in the marital home.
- Retirement Savings
Because of Georgia’s equitable distribution laws, your spouse is likely to receive a portion — perhaps half — of your retirement savings, even if he or she never paid in. This means that you will split your IRA, 401(k), and other savings to support both of your households instead of a single household.
When younger couples divorce, they either do not have a substantial amount of retirement savings or they have time to rebuild their retirement accounts before they reach age 65. During a gray divorce, however, most of your savings years are behind you and you are preparing to begin drawing out.
This can become an issue for people who have a limited retirement account. If you end up having to split your account with your ex-spouse, you may have to put off retiring or go back to work.
- Alimony or Spousal Support
Spousal support is common in gray divorces, especially when one partner stayed home to raise the children or care for the home. While courts may order alimony in a younger couple’s divorce, it is usually only until the receiving spouse is able to go back to school or reenter the work force.
When the spouse has been out of the workforce for 30 to 40 years, however, it is not reasonable to expect they could learn a new career, establish themselves, and attain the type of success their former spouse did during a long-term marriage.
- The Marital Home
Splitting the marital home is never easy, but it is more difficult for many older couples in long-term marriages. By the time people near retirement age, homes are often paid off or have a large amount of equity. Determining how to handle this value is both emotionally and financially complicated. Options include:
- Selling the home and splitting the proceeds
- Transferring the property to one partner, in exchange for other property or money
In many cases, one partner will request to keep the home for sentimental reasons. This is something to discuss with your lawyer to determine if it is in your best financial interest. Keeping the home may mean accepting a smaller share of the retirement funds or receiving less spousal support.
- Future Relationships
When entering a new relationship close to retirement age, it pays to protect your retirement accounts and other assets. If you plan to marry again, a legal agreement ensuring you retain all rights to your assets in a split is a good idea.
You may think it cannot happen again, but it often does. Splitting your half of the retirement savings in half again can leave you little to live on. A prenuptial agreement can protect your assets in case of a second divorce.
If you face a divorce after the age of 50, The Ward Law Firm can help. Gwinnett County divorce attorney David Ward works to value assets, appraise property, and ensure his clients receive a fair settlement or court decision. Contact us today at 770-383-1973 to learn more.