In our current era of uncharted territory and being true to oneself, it is no surprise to find that divorce rates among couples 50 and older are on the rise. Known as the baby boomer generation, these individuals were married in a very different time and familial climate than current generations know. It was not uncommon for a wife to stay home, raise children, and take care of the home while the husband worked to pay all of the bills and provide for the family. These matters are commonly referred to as a "grey divorce," and they can be much more complex than the divorce of a couple who have not been married very long. Whereas a young couple likely both work and contribute to household finances, older couples likely did not. That alone makes it much more difficult for a judge to determine how to equally divide assets.
So what are some of the unique issues of a grey divorce? Well, first let's discuss the assets to be divided. A couple who have been married 40 years, raised children together, and now have grandchildren will have much to discuss regarding division. The difficulty lies in placing a monetary value on those items. At this stage in life, many things hold more sentimental than monetary value. Therefore, it is near impossible for a judge to value and disperse them equally. In the matter of a grey divorce, some courts will require the parties to enter into a pre-negotiated settlement agreement. Some assets that are unique to later in life divorces are retirement accounts, burial plots, aged financial accounts, and real estate owned free and clear. Others can include valuable artwork, family heirlooms, or sentimental gifts from children. Simply put, only the spouses could agree on how these are divided if an equitable division was expected.
Second, the reasons for a grey divorce will likely differ from those of a younger generation. Aged spouses are more likely to seek divorce on terms of financial disagreements or infidelity. Often, they may find that they have grown apart and chosen to follow different paths in the last half of life. They have likely accumulated far more over the years than a younger couple, and may be less agreeable to walking away from a home they helped build.
As you can see, a grey divorce is a unique matter that should be navigated with an experienced attorney to ensure a fair, equitable division. Both parties can walk away with stability and live out their remaining lives in peace and happiness.