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  • Writer's pictureAlan Jacobs

Issues Specific to a "Grey Divorce"

Grey Divorce typically refers to older adults who, in their 50s, 60s and older, are divorcing their spouses. Research reveals that the divorce rate for this age group has spiked significantly over the past twenty years with the divorce rate nearly 25%, with half of those divorces occurring in long-term first marriages.

Certainly, at any age, divorce can have a devastating financial impact on a couple. But while younger people still have time in the future to rebuild their savings and assets, older divorced people do not. Thus, in a Gray Divorce, it is especially incumbent upon the parties to understand their financial needs and the ramifications of the decisions they make when dividing their assets.

A few of the most important issues that need to be addressed include:

Retirement Assets - For divorcing adults over age 60, retirement assets are frequently the largest assets of the marriage. In a long-term marriage, these assets will most likely be shared equally. To accomplish this, a legal document called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will need to be prepared and included with the other divorce documents that are filed with the court.

The Marital Home - The marital home is also one of the largest assets of divorcing older adults, especially if, at this stage, the couple has fully paid off their mortgage. The couple needs to decide whether they will sell the house, or whether one will keep it and buy out the other.

Social Security Benefits - The rules for a stay-at-home or lower-earning spouse to receive Social Security benefits based upon the higher-earning spouse’s benefits are very complicated. It’s very important to get expert advice and determine the potential amount the lower-earning spouse may be entitled to.

Health Insurance - Any health insurance benefits a spouse receives from the other spouse’s health insurance may end upon divorce. Gray Divorce couples may decide to legally separate and sign their settlement agreement, but not proceed with the divorce filing itself until the non-covered spouse reaches the age of 65, at which time he or she is eligible for Medicare coverage.

Spousal Support - Massachusetts has guidelines for a spouse to receive support (also called maintenance) after the couple is divorced. Especially in a Gray Divorce situation, the parties need to consider the ability for each to have sufficient financial means post-divorce.

If you or someone you know could benefit from assistance in decision making during a divorce, contact Falmouth Mediation at 508-566-4159 for a free, no-obligation, private, confidential consultation. We will be happy to discuss the key details of your situation, address any concerns, and help you decide if divorce mediation would be beneficial.

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