'Gray divorce' - getting divorced later in life - is on the rise. Here's how an attorney says you should handle separation when you're older.
"Gray Divorce", also known as "Silver Shard" or "Diamond Divorce", refers to the increasing trend of divorce in late life. Kupicoo / Getty Images
Nicole Sodoma is the founder of a family and separation law firm in Charlotte, North Carolina.
She says "gray divorce" can be caused by factors such as longer life expectancy and financial independence.
Older couples should consider the division of retirement benefits and marital property when separating.
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"Gray divorce," also known as "silver splitter" or "diamond divorce," is a term used to denote the increasing trend of late life divorces. The term first went mainstream in 2004 when AARP published a study on divorce in "Midlife and Beyond". It is commonly used to describe adults aged 50 and over who are going through a breakup.
In 2015, every 10 in 1,000 couples aged 50 and over divorced, which was twice as many as in 1990. The increase was even higher for those over 65 - it had roughly tripled in 25 years. While the divorce rate has steadily declined since then, the divorce rate of people over 50 is on the rise.
Statistically speaking, the gray divorce is and will not only be on the rise in the US. Canada, Japan, Australia, India and the United Kingdom have also seen increases over the past decade. While the discussion online has become increasingly common in recent years, this is a conversation that many divorce lawyers have been familiar with for more than two decades.
The rise in gray divorce can potentially be attributed to a variety of factors: people are living longer, both spouses are working and therefore becoming more financially independent, and the stigma associated with divorce has shifted significantly. If you go through a breakup later in life here's what you need to know.
The differences between a gray divorce and divorce when you are younger
There can be some unique issues to address in addition to the common concerns of divorce at any age, such as: B. Fair distribution and maintenance. Some issues related to the "gray divorce" include retirement benefit sharing, confusion about beneficiaries, more complicated property sharing, health insurance and Medicare benefits, overall health care expenses, and possibly more than one benefit obligation. In addition, a financially dependent spouse may feel they need more support as they are less likely to start a career late in life, and a financially supportive spouse may worry about their ability to keep the benefit payments up when they are slower will or will retire.
The need for retirement benefits becomes more critical when you get divorced later in life as people have less time to make up for any losses due to a divorce. When planning a separate future, it is of the utmost importance to understand what benefits are available and how they can be distributed.
For example, a Qualified Domestic Relationship Organization (QDRO) is a mechanism that allows certain retirement plans to be broken down. QDROs are common, but not always, required depending on the type of split retirement plan. While you might expect QDROs to occur with any divorce, it is much more likely with gray divorces, where retirement accounts tend to be more significant.
In many gray divorces, custody is often not relevant to the discussion because the parties' children are over 18 years old. However, there may still be problems to be solved in order to avoid adult children and grandchildren being involved.
Adult children may be drawn into subsequent divorce and asked to side with one parent or the other. This can hurt family unity (which is often exactly why unhappy couples wait to break up until their children grow up above). There are several ways that individuals can address these concerns, including estate planning and prenuptial agreements, all of which can help set future expectations not just for the individual but for their family as well.
Postnuptial contracts are signed after the marriage date rather than before the marriage date, and in the event of a separation, problems such as debts, inheritances and any other property of the couple - such as B. a house - treat. Often times, couples who feel that their marriage is on shaky ground use postnuptial agreements because they can help clear some of the difficult financial conversations so that the couple can focus their energies on their relationship again.
Your estate plan generally includes a will, medical and financial powers, and advanced care policy, all of which work together to legally protect your desires for your wealth and family after your death.
Looking ahead, you will also need to think about new partnerships in case you decide to remarry. Couples need to deal with the effects of divorce on their children from previous relationships as well as future relationships. For example, you may need to consider how the marital property regime might affect or be questioned if you remarry. All retirement, social security and pension implications and estate planning documents need to be updated and maintained. Perhaps a premarital or premarital agreement, rather than a post-marital agreement, might best serve a family's future interests.
A marriage agreement is a legal document that has been signed by both people before they get married. Similar to postnuptial arrangements, prenups can cover a variety of topics including, but not limited to who receives what in the event of a split and any provisions regarding receiving alimony.
How to go forward
If you later divorce, you should have a solid foundation and clear expectations about what your next chapter will look like. Identify a trustworthy and knowledgeable divorce attorney, estate planning attorney, and financial advisor. Use litigation as a last resort and consider an alternative method of dispute resolution like mediation, which usually keeps costs down, takes less time, and is less stressful for everyone involved.
Nicole H. Sodoma is the founder and chief executive officer of Sodoma Law, based in Charlotte, NC and with offices in Union County, NC and York County, SC.
This story was originally published on Insider on February 10th, 2020.
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