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Navigating a “gray” divorce can be complicated

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2019 | Divorce |

A rising phenomenon in California and across the nation is a so-called “gray” divorce in which older people have decided to end their marriages. While there are fundamental personal factors that must be considered in the context of all divorces, it is important to understand a gray divorce and its impact.

Although the statistics for divorce are showing a drastic reduction in the overall number, divorces for people 55 and older are rising significantly. With these individuals, it is wise to think about alimony, property division, inheritances, Social Security, life insurance, and retirement accounts. Alimony – also referred to as spousal support – is worrisome for many. People who were the main breadwinners in the relationship will likely be ordered to support the other person. Since older people are likely well-established in their professional lives, there could be complications with stocks and bonuses.

Property division will be problematic, as the couple might have various assets, bank accounts and more. Since California is a community property state, the property obtained during the marriage will be split evenly, regardless of which party was the bigger earner or paid for it. This will also include debts and liabilities. During a long marriage, there might be inheritances that came into the marriage. Generally, this is considered separate property, but the circumstances will dictate whether that is truly the case or not.

Since Social Security is based on how much the person earned during their lifetime, the other spouse could receive part of it in a divorce. The marriage must have lasted for at least a decade and there are age considerations. With life insurance, a supporting spouse is often required to have a policy to protect the other spouse. Finally, pensions and retirement accounts could fall into the category of marital assets.

Divorce is never easy, but there are unique challenges in a gray divorce. To be fully protected, it is vital to call a law firm that has a history of helping clients with their divorce legal issues from property division to support and more. Calling for advice is the first step toward being fully prepared in an older divorce or with any other family law situation.


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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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