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5 unexpected challenges in a gray divorce

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Gray divorce is a phrase used to describe a couple in their fifties who have decided to end their marriage. After decades building a life together, however, they could face unique challenges that might not impact a younger couple’s divorce.

Here are five factors that might challenge the efficient progress of a gray divorce:

  • Clarifying any pre-marital assets: Many people have taken the time to draft a prenuptial agreement prior to a marriage, but not everyone. The more time that elapses, the harder it can be to clearly identify the assets, property and debts that were independently brought into a marriage. Separating marital and non-marital assets is a fundamental concept of property division, and the process can be hampered when there is no clear record of who owned what before the marriage.
  • Identifying all marital assets: Working together for decades through prime earning years has likely led to numerous assets, holdings and accounts – some of which might become lost in the shuffle of the divorce process. It is wise to take the time to identify all assets from deferred compensation packages and stock options to rental properties and credit card miles that need to be divided.
  • Examine your Social Security: Depending on certain factors, it might be possible to increase your Social Security benefits based on the amount your spouse is set to receive. It is wise to discuss these variables with your divorce attorney to ensure you make the right decision.
  • Inheritance and gifts: It is not uncommon for older adults to have lost several loved ones over the years. Deaths in the family could result in receiving substantial inheritances. These inheritances can lead to some financial logistical nightmares. For example, if one spouse uses his or her inheritance to fund a new business that both parties operate, those funds must be accounted-for in the divorce.
  • Retirement accounts and pensions: While it might be easy for a couple married for a decade to grow a 401(k) into six figures, after several decades of income contributions, many couples face retirement accounts in the millions. It might be challenging to divide various retirement accounts and pension plans.

No matter the length of your marriage or the scope of your assets, it is wise to discuss the divorce process with an experienced attorney. Gray divorce can present some challenges that are best handled by a legal professional who can provide the guidance and insight necessary to efficiently move you from start to finish.

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