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Issues to Consider in a Grey Divorce

Here is a statistic that has taken many sociologists and family law professionals by surprise: While the total U.S. divorce rate has remained the same and even decreased in the past few decades, the divorce rate for couples over age 50 has increased dramatically. This demographic now accounts for 25 percent of all divorces.

There are several theories about why grey divorce, as the phenomenon is popularly called, has grown more prevalent. People are living longer. Baby boomers make personal fulfillment a priority, no matter how old they are. More women are financially independent. When younger couples divorce, the main issues are usually child custody and support, division of property and, if applicable, alimony. In a grey divorce, however, division of marital assets can be significantly more complicated and take center stage in divorce proceedings.

Maryland divorce law requires an equitable division of marital property. If either or both spouses had a previous marriage, they may have to determine which assets count as personal property versus which assets or investments are marital property. Older married couples also need to figure out how to split valuable assets such as:

  • Retirement plans
  • Pensions
  • 401(k) account
  • IRAs
  • Investments

Long-term retirement or pension plans often have specific schedules and restrictions and liquidating 401(k) and IRA accounts can have negative tax consequences. When a couple has significant assets tied up in these kinds of plans, it is often wise to bring in a divorce finances expert who can assess the value of these assets and determine the best way to divide them fairly.

Older couples who want to end their marriage and make a new start should also take steps to ensure they have the financial stability necessary to weather a health crisis or a stock market slump. This is why it is important for older spouses to have an experienced Maryland divorce attorney who can offer guidance and support throughout the proceeding.

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