Divorce is never easy, regardless of your age. But those who have been married for a significant period of time and are older may struggle to navigate the complexities of their marriage dissolution if for no other reason than the fact that they have accumulated significant assets. If you’re in a position where you’re trying to figure out the implications of your pending property division, then you’re probably worried about the outcome and what it means for your future. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the most challenging property-related issues that those age 50 and older may have to deal with in their divorce.
- Retirement accounts: These accounts are oftentimes at the forefront of property division considerations in gray divorces. After all, they’re typically rather large, and they can be the key to financial stability in years to come. In many cases, legal steps, such as obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, are taken to ensure that retirement accounts are equitably divided without penalties. But calculating the value of these assets, especially when it comes to pensions or military benefits, can be difficult. Of course, you can try to negotiate around retirement accounts if you hope to retain your investments, but in most cases these assets are aggressively sought after and ultimately divided.
- The marital home: You may have spent years or even decades establishing, maintaining, and improving your marital home. It may carry a significant amount of monetary and sentimental value. Therefore, it can be hard to part ways with the marital home. But depending on your circumstances, selling the home and dividing the proceeds may be the best way to provide you with the financial stability that you need post-divorce. Or you may want to keep the residence in exchange for other marital assets. The good news here is that you have a lot of options, so carefully think through what sort of outcome regarding the marital home best suits you.
- Separate property: Your marital assets are going to be divided in an equitable fashion, but your individually held property will be removed from the property division process. The same is true for your spouse’s separate property. But determining which property has remained separate throughout the course of a long marriage can be complicated. You’ll need to assess financial records to determine if separate assets, such as inheritances, were comingled with marital assets, as doing so will oftentimes bring those once separate assets into the martial estate and its corresponding property division process.
- Spousal support: Individuals who are going through a gray divorce sometimes struggle with the financial realities of transitioning from a two-income home to one. In some instances, a divorcing individual has never held a job and has instead sacrificed a career to raise a family and maintain a home. In these instances, spousal support can become critically important. There are a number of factors that go into an alimony determination, including sacrifices made during the course of the marriage and the length of the marriage, so be prepared with evidence that speaks to each of those factors.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the many property issues that you may face in your gray divorce, and each of them can be much more complicated than they seem. What’s important to remember is that you can competently address all of these property issues with a sound legal strategy. That’s why if you’re headed for marriage dissolution, then we encourage you to discuss the specifics of your circumstances with an attorney who can competently guide you through the process.