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The fastest-growing demographic in divorce involves couples over 50, often referred to as “gray divorce.” Because these couples contend with different issues than couples divorcing at a younger age, dedicated family lawyers, financial advisors, and other professionals work to ensure that clients in a gray divorce situation address the unique challenges and emerge ready to face their future with confidence.
Why is Gray Divorce Different?
Gray divorce involves a couple separating at an older age, often after being married for up to 20 years or more. Couples in this age bracket have usually acquired substantial marital property that can be difficult to value and divide equitably, especially assets such as pensions and closely-held business interests. Even the increase in the value of assets brought into the marriage separately is considered joint property. Family concerns also differ for couples in gray divorce. While child custody may not be an issue, college expenses and debts could be a significant area of contention.
Alimony is More Likely to Be a Factor
Courts do not award spousal maintenance in every divorce, but judges may be more likely to find it appropriate in gray divorce situations. Alimony is commonly awarded when one spouse cannot earn enough to support themselves due to age, illness, or lack of employment skills. Couples divorcing at an older age often find themselves facing these circumstances. Moreover, Colorado law allows alimony to continue longer for couples who have been together for more years. Therefore, spousal maintenance could be awarded for significantly more time in gray divorce cases.
Although the law provides a formula that can be used for calculating alimony, couples can ask for approval of their own plan. An experienced gray divorce lawyer could help devise an arrangement for support and asset division that meets the needs of both parties. (Maybe add something about nearing retirement age and how that could affect maintenance too)
Division of Assets Such as Retirement Accounts
Dividing property can be a challenge in any divorce case, but when couples have been together many years and their future suddenly changes, the difficulties increase tremendously. First, each partner must determine if they have any separate property or whether the interests have become co-mingled into marital property.
Next, it is necessary to determine how to appropriately value and possibly liquidate assets. It can be helpful to call on experts to value assets such as the interests in a closely-held business or the future value of retirement accounts and pensions. In gray divorce cases, these assets are particularly critical because the couples involved have more invested and less time to rebuild a portfolio before retirement. Each partner will need to review their future forecast to determine whether they may need to work longer or in a different position than initially planned.
Preparing For a Gray Divorce
The best way to prepare for a gray divorce is to work with a team of advisors who can help address the legal, financial, emotional, and other concerns couples face when divorcing over age 50. Consultations with advisors could help you determine what is most important to you and help formulate a plan to achieve your goals.
If you divorce at age 60, you might have another 30 or 40 years ahead. It would be best to decide what you want those years to look like financially, emotionally, and in terms of your family. For instance, do you see yourself hosting holiday gatherings in the family home? Or do you want to take sole control of a family business? Your advisors can help organize your priorities and work to gain your objectives.
Each partner needs to have access to financial records and a clear understanding of all assets and obligations. A gray divorce attorney can assist with an inventory of property and assigning value for the appropriate division of pensions and other marital assets.
Jones Law Firm, PC Can Help with Gray Divorce in Colorado
At Jones Law Firm, PC, we take a strategic approach to gray divorce. We can help you review what you have, what you want, and determine the right moves to get you where you want to go. For a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with your divorce, contact us now.
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