What Are Some of the Difficulties of a Gray Divorce?

Photo of a Senior Woman Contemplating Her Divorce

Recent estimates suggest that divorces among spouses 50 years and older have steadily increased, even outpacing cases involving younger divorcees. According to a June article published in the Wall Street Journal, divorces are at a 40-year low unless you are 50 years or older

Divorce lawyers sometimes refer to divorces involving spouses 50 years or older as “gray divorce.” However, there are issues unique to gray divorce cases that may complicate matters. 

Social Security and Retirement Issues During a Gray Divorce

Many divorcees older than 50 have close to fully funded retirement accounts, including pensions, and some may receive Social Security payments. In California, community property is divided during a divorce. 

Community property may include payments made to retirement accounts, depending on the circumstances. Any income you made during your marriage may be considered community property that must be divided among you and your spouse. This is true even if you worked more than your spouse. 

You may be able to receive Social Security benefits obtained by your spouse. If you were married for 10 years before the divorce and are at least 62 years old, then you may be able to receive up to 50 percent of your former’ spouse’s Social Security payments.

Division of Assets During a Gray Divorce

In a gray divorce, it may be more difficult to determine the division of assets due to the length of the marriage. Spouses may fight among themselves about which assets are personal property and community property. As a result, this can complicate the legal process for dividing assets as part of a divorce agreement. Certain financial assets, such as retirement accounts, can be bitterly contested during a gray divorce. 

There are other issues with assets to consider. For many younger divorcees, they and their assets have decades of earning potential ahead. This may not always be the case with older divorcees, who may be close to retirement or in retirement.

Fortunately, a California divorce attorney may be able to help you find ways to avoid some of the pitfalls associated with dividing property and assets.  

Health and Life Insurance Issues

Are you on your spouse’s health insurance policy? Are you listed as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy? One of the major pitfalls of a gray divorce is that you may face coverage issues following your divorce. 

You can still purchase health insurance policies through Healthcare.gov if you are unemployed and require subsidized health insurance. State programs are also available in California, such as Medicali. 

Transitioning from Being Economically Dependent

With older couples, it is more common for one spouse to depend on the other for financial support. However, this also complicates issues during a gray divorce. Older divorcees who were reliant on their former spouse could face a difficult time obtaining financial independence. This is especially true due to rampant age discrimination among older workers and jobseekers. 

It is important to have an attorney on your side that can help you work through these issues before they materialize. 

Contact Our San Diego Divorce Attorney for More Information

San Diego divorce attorney Steve Gnau can help with family law matters, including contested divorces. You may reach Steve for a consultation by calling (619)269-8000 or by using the contact form on our website. We hope to hear from you soon.