Gray Divorce 101
It has become increasingly common for divorce attorneys to receive consultation requests from individuals with children who are finishing college or graduate school, or starting families of their own. This has become so familiar a subject as to be frequently referred to in the press as Gray Divorce.
Also called Silver Divorce, late-life divorce, or divorce over 50, it’s become a hot topic with divorce rates in this age group sky-rocketing in recent years. According to The New York Times:
Late-life divorce (also called “silver” or “gray” divorce) is becoming more common, and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For those over 65, the increase was even higher. At the same time, divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups.*
There are many reasons for the change. People are living longer. Medical advances allow them to lead more active lives later in life. And older people are more physically, socially and sexually active than ever before. In addition, the rise of the two-income household has made divorce an option for both men and women. In the past, women’s lack of employment outside the home made it harder for them to make that choice.
Social factors are also an influence. People work longer hours and social lives have shifted to more work-based socializing rather than the traditional neighborhood and family model. Add the fact that it’s easier to obtain a divorce and more common to be divorced, and the social stigma of divorce for individuals in their 50s and 60s is not the concern it used to be.
Here are a few things you should know if you’re contemplating a late-life divorce…
- Not everyone is entitled to alimony.
- Consult an attorney if you are thinking about divorce and are approaching retirement age. In 2011 effective in 2012 the MA state laws were changed to limit obligations of a spouse who is retired. With few exceptions, once your spouse retires they do not have to pay alimony anymore.
- In Massachusetts, separate retirement funds can and usually will be divided as joint marital property, even if they are in one party’s name.
- If you own a home, whoever keeps the house will often have to give up something else of equal or similar value.
- A prenuptial agreement is an important protection for you and your children should you decide to remarry.
- Consult with an attorney as early as possible even of you are undecided as to whether or not you want to divorce.
Feel free to contact us for more information or to answer any questions. We look forward to hearing from you.