Over the past decade, divorce rates have trended downward across all age groups, with one exception: those age 55 and over. The number of “gray divorces” has increased significantly in recent years.
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, more of them are choosing to divorce. Some of them have been married to the same person for 30 years or more. Others are on their second or third marriages. Either way, millions of 55+-ers are deciding they do not want to spend the next phase of their lives with their current spouse – or they are finding out their spouse feels this way. In some cases, both spouses fall out of love or have grown too far apart during the years of raising children and building careers. No matter what the reason, people facing gray divorce have unique issues and concerns that must be fully addressed.
Special Issues in Gray Divorces
There are special issues in gray divorces that are very different from divorce at earlier stages in life. To make things easier in gray divorce, the children are usually grown and living on their own. There can be issues regarding adult children of divorce, but child custody and child support are not likely to be factors in a gray divorce.
On the other hand, there are important issues affecting gray divorce that can be extremely complex. Property division can be a complicated process. You and your spouse have likely accumulated significant assets: a house; a second home; retirement accounts; and, valuable personal property like jewelry or antiques. One or both of you might have an interest in a business. Sometimes couples in gray divorces may have significant debt. Debt division can be more difficult than dividing assets. There are also considerations of health insurance coverage, Social Security, long-term care, and inheritances. One spouse may now have to pay for health insurance which can be an overwhelming expense for those over 55. One spouse may be ill. There may be an age difference between the spouses such that one spouse may be continuing to work while the other may be retired.
The division of retirement accounts can be an especially tricky issue. If you and your spouse are not yet old enough to withdraw funds from your IRA or 401(k), there may be an exception to the usual 10% penalty for early withdrawal when the retirement funds are transferred in a divorce. However, there may still be tax consequences and other asset-balancing issues to consider. If one or both spouses have a pension, there are additional issues. In short, all retirement assets are NOT the same. Particularly in gray divorces, it is extremely important to understand your retirement accounts and make the best possible decision regarding division.
Mistakes Can Be Costly
If you are facing a gray divorce, getting your “fair share” of the marital property is critical. You need a solid financial base from which you can enjoy this phase of your life and retirement on your best terms. We maintain relationships with therapists, CPAs, and financial planners that have particular experience and expertise in matters surrounding divorce.
The attorneys at McConnell Family Law Group are extremely knowledgeable and experienced in representing 55+ clients and fully understand the unique issues involved in gray divorce.Call our firm today at 860-266-1166 (Hartford office); 203-344-7007 (New Canaan office); or 203-344-7762 (New Haven office) so that we can help you Find Peace Through Strength!