“Gray Divorce” refers to divorces involving spouses who are 50 and older. According to statistics from McKinley Irvin Family Law, the overall divorce rate has declined over the past 20 years, but the rate of gray divorce has doubled in that same time frame.
Ending a marriage is difficult no matter the age of the persons involved, but there are some prevalent financial concerns when it comes to gray divorce.
“When you’re married, you’re thinking in terms of a couple. If after 50, you find yourself going through divorce, your marital estate is going to be divided. Now your plan that you had years earlier is significantly impacted,” said Jennifer Payseno, an attorney at McKinley Irvin’s Bellevue office.
What can you do to protect your assets if you find yourself in the midst of gray divorce? In Washington state, we have something Payseno described as “financial restraining orders.”
“It makes sure that nothing gets altered or changed from the point you file your case until the point your case is concluded,” she said. “It’s an important step to make sure no one sells anything, transfers anything, conceals, or otherwise change anything in a financial perspective as you proceed with your case. The goal is to keep and preserve as much as possible so that when you get to the end of the case, there are assets to divide.”
Another aspect to the financial restraining order is it allows attorney to request that all insurance, life, medical, home, etc., remain in place during the entirety of the case. Payseno explained that this is particularly significant for those going through golden divorce because the higher possibility of health issues that come with older age. Naturally those benefits will expire once the divorce is complete, but it’s helpful to have them available as a case proceeds.
Payseno said one of the biggest mistakes in gray divorce is to make a decision to file without fully understanding the impact. “Getting legal and financial counsel before filing will teach you what will happen if you actually pursue a divorce. The decision can often come from an emotional place, but people have to understand how it will effect them financially.”
McKinley Irvin’s firm recently put together an interesting infographic that demonstrates some of the numbers behind gray divorce, which include:
*Attitudes are shifting: In 2014, 69% of older Americans think divorce is morally acceptable compared to 48% in 2001
*Two out of three gray divorces are initiated by women.
*In 2010, 1 in 4 people over age 50 were divorced
Click here to see the full infographic.