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How is a gray divorce different than one when you’re younger?

Divorce is not just a young person’s decision. In fact, while divorce rates overall have gone down in the United States over the last 20 years, they have been on the rise for older couples. Those over the age of 50 are more likely than ever before to face divorce, possibly after decades of marriage.

If you are getting close to retirement age and also acutely aware of being unhappy in your marriage, gray divorce could be in your future. What makes a divorce later in life different from the divorce between those who have only been together for a few years?

You will have substantially more marital property after decades together

When you split up your property, one of the most important considerations is what property is marital and what is separate. Assets acquired and income earned during your marriage typically belong to both spouses, which means they are subject to division in a divorce.

The longer your marriage lasted, the more income and property you will have as part of your marital estate. You may have complex holdings, ranging from pensions to real estate investments. There could also be a bigger debt load to go with those assets. Property division can be a lot more complicated for couples who have spent years together earning income and acquiring property.

Spousal maintenance or alimony might last longer

The duration of your marriage and each spouse’s financial and unpaid contributions to the household directly influence the amount of alimony or spousal maintenance that the Colorado family courts order and how long it will last. The standard of living you enjoyed while married could also impact how the courts rule.

For example, a dependent spouse who stayed home to raise the family’s children and then files for divorce after three decades of marriage while close to retirement age might qualify for permanent alimony. The longer the marriage and the higher the income and standard of living, the stronger the claim to maintenance by the dependent spouse.

There are other concerns that are different or elevated in a gray divorce. These include the effects of splitting a retirement account after you have left your career or when retirement is imminent. Those looking to divorce after a long-term marriage will have to take more steps than others to untangle their life and finances from their spouse.

 

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