Divorce rates in the United States have gone downward in recent decades. While this trend applies to couples in most age groups, the notable exception is 55 years old and up. The so-called “grey divorce” trend continues to rise. Because of couples’ age in this group, some previously essential issues like child custody and visitation are rarely appropriate. Instead, other unique issues become more important.
Financial issues are a larger priority
A fair and equitable division of assets is always essential during a divorce, but they become more so with older couples. Here are several reasons:
- One or both spouses may retire in the next ten years if they have not done so already.
- The spouses are likely at the top of their earning potential, but this window may close for various reasons.
- Initial retirement planning did not consider divorce and dividing it.
- Their age means less time than younger couples to replenish bank accounts and retirement plans and meet savings goals.
- One spouse may not have worked outside the house, which means less desirable job opportunities to support themselves.
Spouses may have other reasons unique to their circumstances, such as owning one or more businesses.
Mistakes can be critical
The reasons above outline several issues, but the finite amount of time means it is imperative to be careful with financial decisions. For example, holding onto a family home can provide comfort amidst this time of change, but larger properties designed for families can be expensive to maintain even when paid for. Making early withdrawals from 401 (k) or IRAs retirement accounts can mean financial penalties, but some foresight and planning can help minimize unnecessary expenses.
The right attorney can be a real asset
Some attorneys have experience handling grey divorces and know how to craft a fair and equitable agreement that considers all foreseeable issues. They understand what is at stake and find creative solutions to complex financial matters.