Divorce lawyers understand the modern trend of “gray divorce,” which is divorce among individuals 65 or older. Today, it’s a trend that’s growing at surprising rates.
Even though gray divorce in Florida (and around the country) is becoming more common, there are unique issues that younger divorcing couples don’t face. If you have decided to file for divorce and are in this demographic, I am here to help. As an experienced Florida divorce lawyer, I can review your situation and help you get the best possible outcome.
Gray Divorce Defined
When the term “gray divorce” was first used, it referred to men and women who filed for divorce after 40 years or more of marriage. Today, though, the term is mainly used to describe baby boomers filing for divorce, regardless of how many years they have been married.
Overall, the divorce rate in the U.S. has fallen in the past 20 years. However, the divorce rate for the over-50 demographic has doubled.
The question that many people have is why the divorce rate has increased in the age group.
The Top Reasons Cited for Increased Rates of Gray Divorce
Gray divorce is more common than ever, and a few reasons are cited for this trend. These include:
- The couple grows apart. For years, couples have identified as parents, and when children leave the house, they may not “know” each other. With no one else in the house to focus on, the couple realizes they don’t know the person they are married to.
- Age. If one person in the relationship is constantly negative and focusing on the “bad” aspect of getting older, their spouse may want to move on.
- Self-improvement. After spending years doing the same thing and living the same way, some people want to change. However, divorce may be the only viable option if the other person doesn’t feel the same.
- Financial issues and money spending habits. If a couple is retired and now living on a fixed income, different spending habits and priorities may cause friction and the desire for divorce.
- Sex. As a couple ages, their libido may begin to wane or surge. Unfortunately, it may not be the same for both, which can result in issues.
- Longer life expectancy. The life expectancy of people is longer than ever before. As many people realize this, they also realize they don’t want to spend the rest of their life with their spouses.
- Lifestyles. Some people are active while others are not. This can also lead to divorce for some couples.
While these are common issues that cause older couples to file for divorce, there are many others. No two people are the same, and the reasons they choose to get divorced are usually personal and unique to their situation.
When you decide that filing for divorce is the right option for you, it’s important to understand the issues you may face.
Unique Issues in Cases of Gray Divorce
It does not matter why you are filing for divorce. If you have decided your marriage is over, my years and experience as a divorce lawyer may benefit your situation.
In a gray divorce, there are more complex issues to deal with. This is mainly because when people divorce at this point in their life, they have more assets and responsibilities than younger individuals.
Alimony Duration and Amount
The person in a gray divorce ordered to pay alimony will likely be late in their career. Because of this, the compensation they receive is likely more complex than when they began.
Factors like options, bonuses, restricted stock units, travel perks, car allowances, executive compensation packages, ownership stakes, and more may come into play. When alimony is being determined in a long-term marriage case, the amount received should be based on all forms of compensation, not just the person’s base salary.
Part of my job is ensuring that my clients receive fair treatment. This is true no matter if they are the ones ordered to pay alimony or if they are receiving it.
Separate Property vs. Marital Property
The state of Florida (like many others) is an equitable distribution jurisdiction. This means dividing assets begins with a 50/50 split, but then multiple rules are applied to ensure fair property division.
It’s also necessary to consider things like pre-marital property in divorce cases. This can be complicated and another reason to have a Florida divorce lawyer helping with your case.
In most situations, inheritances are considered “separate property.” These are usually not subject to distribution when you file for divorce. However, they can impact your divorce finances and settlement.
For example, if inheritances are co-mingled, it can cause some issues. This can happen in many ways. Additionally, inheritances can impact how your marital liabilities and assets are divided.
An example of this will be if the division of your liabilities and assets is 50/50. You and your spouse receive half of your total retirement assets. However, your spouse inherited $500,000 from their parents when they passed away.
While the assets and liabilities eligible for distribution were split 50/50, it doesn’t mean that your asset pool is equal. Sometimes, the money you earn from investing or inheritance may impact alimony. This is another gray divorce issue that can be complex and require the help of an experienced divorce lawyer.
When you divorce after a long-term marriage, you may believe you can collect Social Security benefits from the other party’s earnings.
If this is the case, when it is time for alimony negotiations, you may agree to a lower payment amount thinking you also get the Social Security benefits. However, once your divorce is final, you may discover you don’t qualify for these benefits. At this point, you and your financial situation are in a hard spot.
Working with a divorce attorney means you have someone who knows the benefits you can receive and what you will not. This ensures all these factors are accounted for during divorce negotiations.
In some situations, the court handling your divorce case may require that the individual who must pay alimony also have a life insurance policy equal to the duration and amount of alimony awarded in the divorce decree.
If you believe that this may make it difficult for you to support yourself financially due to the high cost of life insurance for older individuals, it’s recommended that you work with a divorce attorney. They may be able to negotiate better terms.
Division of Retirement Accounts and Pension Plans
Modern companies are using 401(k)s rather than pension plans. However, many local and state governments still provide employee pension plans. If your spouse is a government official, police officer, firefighter, or teacher, there’s a good chance they have a pension. Because they have likely been working in their career for many years, the pension may be significant.
When you file for divorce, you may wonder how to divide this type of asset. This isn’t the same as a 401(k) or an IRA, where you have money sitting in an account. A pension is a promise that an employer makes to give an employee a monthly payment until they die (in most cases). There are no stipulations that the person’s ex-spouse receives a monthly payment.
Because of this, it can be difficult to divide a pension amount since there’s no predetermined value. This is true for government pensions, but not corporate pension plans.
While some states require divorced parents to pay for their child’s college education through child support, this is not the case in Florida. Even though it’s not the case, it may be harder to plan for big expenses like this after a divorce. It is something else a divorce attorney can consider when working on the divorce negotiations.
Get in Touch with a Florida Divorce Lawyer to Help with Your Gray Divorce
While gray divorce can be more complex than a traditional divorce, I can help. At Griffin Family Law, I have handled many gray divorce cases and will work to help you get the best possible outcome for your situation.
Even though there are several complex issues that we will have to deal with in these divorce cases, you can count on my experience and expertise to help you each step of the way. I am here to help you get through this transitional period of your life and achieve the outcome desired. The first step is to get in touch with my office to schedule an initial consultation to discuss your needs.