More and more senior spouses have been turning to divorce in recent years. “Gray divorce,” or divorce between older couples, can seem like a ticket to freedom after many years of living with the same person. You may be considering divorce yourself, whether it’s because you crave independence, you want to live a different lifestyle, or you’ve simply drifted apart from your spouse. You may be set on your decision, but keep in mind that gray divorce comes with a host of challenges that don’t typically come up between younger couples.
1) Proving Value or Ownership of Assets
The division of property can get more complicated during the process of a gray divorce. While some states divide assets based on the concept of “community property,” Connecticut follows the principle of “equitable distribution.” Rather than splitting everything 50/50, equitable distribution means dividing your assets “fairly” while considering each spouse’s future financial situation. Generally speaking, the rule distinguishes between your marital property (or property gained together during marriage) and separate property (or property you acquired before or after marriage). It can be especially difficult to prove the value of your pre-marital assets in a gray divorce, assuming you haven’t kept every important bank statement or receipt from decades in the past.
2) Dividing Specific Types of Property
Some property and assets may be difficult to divide or complicate what you expect to receive from the divorce. These may include pension plans, 401(k)s, social security, and inheritances. To handle these types of assets, you’ll often need foresight and a nuanced approach. You may have to let go of other property entirely, like the marital home. One or both of you may feel it’s important to keep the house, but once you have divided your funds in half, will you have the financial means to sustain it? You may not expect to relocate at your age, but it’s something you should keep in mind.
3) Reduced Financial Freedom
While many people see gray divorce as a way to control their own finances, especially after years of sharing the responsibility, it can present some big financial changes. Aside from the initial costs of any divorce, a gray divorce can be expensive for either spouse. The division of property will cut your funds more or less in half—funds you may have intended to leave for your children, or to enjoy your twilight years in comfort. In some cases, your post-divorce finances may necessitate a lifestyle change. If you’re a potential gray divorcee, think about how you can pursue your independence without sacrificing any financial freedom in your retirement years.
As mentioned above, certain types of assets are more difficult to handle in the property division process. Inheritance is often one of the most complicated. If you have received an inheritance, the courts will usually consider it separate property. When inheritance funds intermingle with marital property, it can take some investigation to trace exactly what belongs to whom during a gray divorce. The result? After all is said and done, one of you may ultimately be left with less property than you expected.
Gray divorce is more complex than regular divorce in several ways. How can you anticipate the changes ahead? It’s important to find an experienced team of family lawyers who can assist you throughout the process. Please contact the law office of Freed Marcroft to begin the discussion.