“Gray Divorce” is a common term for divorce over the age of 50. It is a funny name for the phenomenon considering I just turned 50 and have no plans to let my hair go gray any time soon!
With the benefit of age comes the ability to accumulate wealth. All of the effort that one party may put into saving for retirement or building equity in a business can make for a more complex divorce. Gray divorces warrant special consideration in the following areas:
- Income – Those individuals divorcing post-retirement are likely living on a fixed or limited income. Whether retired individuals are receiving income from a pension or from distributions from a retirement account, most retirees do not have the same income level as they did before retirement. This can make divorce at a later age proportionally more costly.
- Retirement Accounts – In Pennsylvania, if an income-producing asset has been awarded to a party in equitable distribution, the same asset cannot be counted as a source of income from which alimony may be paid. For instance, a pension in pay status cannot be counted as income for alimony purposes if it was also a marital asset that has been divided in equitable distribution. The concept of a “double dip” may sound logical and straightforward, but retirement accounts must be valued and divided carefully.
- Marital Home – The family home is often one of the largest assets in a divorce and can trigger the most emotion – especially if you have lived in the house for a very long time. There are many factors to consider when deciding how to handle your home. If one spouse keeps the house, will he or she be able to afford it with only one income? What alternative assets are available to offset the equity retained? If one party keeps the home, will he or she be able to qualify for a new mortgage?
- Life and Long-Term Care Insurance – Whole-life insurance policies taken out during the marriage with cash values are subject to equitable distribution, while term-life policies do not have cash value. In many divorces, a term-life policy on the spouse who pays alimony is taken out to ensure payments will be covered in case of death. However, in gray divorces, life insurance can be more difficult and costly to obtain. In some instances, annuities or other types of options can be explored to ensure the payment of support obligations where a spouse does not qualify for life insurance.
- Trust and Estate Plans –Once your divorce is final, you will need to make sure you create a new trust and estate plan with updated beneficiaries. It is important to enlist the counsel of an experienced estate planning attorney.
If you have made the decision to divorce, put the knowledge of an experienced Bucks County family law attorney in your corner. Williams Family Law is the largest divorce law firm in Bucks County. Our experience in assisting clients with gray divorces could make all the difference for you. Contact us at 215-340-2207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.