What Older People Should Keep in Mind When Getting a Divorce

Divorce is a challenging and emotional process, and it becomes even more complex when it occurs later in life. This phenomenon, known as a “grey divorce,” has been gaining attention in the field of family law.

The phrase “gray divorce” refers to divorces among people aged 50 or older. It has become a widely used phrase in the past decade or so as late-in-life divorce has become more common. It is so common, in fact, that the 50+ crowd now accounts for one in four divorces in America, according to the American Bar Association

Older Minnesotans usually have different goals and concerns than younger people when it comes to ending a marriage. While a couple in their 50s, 60s, and beyond may no longer have to worry about things like child custody, they do have to think about complicated issues such as estate planning, living on a fixed income, dividing large retirement account balances spread across multiple accounts, and the possibility of having to return to work to support themselves post-divorce.

Issues That May Play a Role in Your Gray Divorce in Minnesota

Navigating a grey divorce requires specialized knowledge and expertise from a family law attorney who understands the unique complexities that come with this stage of life. These divorces often involve issues such as retirement funds, division of assets accumulated over many years, spousal support, and potential impacts on social security benefits.

Here is a small sample of the issues that older folks will want to keep in mind when faced with the prospect of divorce:

  • Each spouse will have higher living expenses because they need to maintain their separate households as singles.
  • A spouse who gets health insurance through their husband or wife cannot continue that coverage after divorce, so they may need to buy their own insurance at a considerable cost.
  • Social Security payments could be less than expected, particularly if the marriage lasted less than 10 years.
  • One or both older spouses may have retirement assets in different accounts, such as 401(k)s, IRAs, or pensions. Funds in these accounts may need to be divided, and if they do, special steps must be taken to avoid taxes and penalties.
  • Retirement may need to be delayed due to losing assets in the property division process. A spouse who is already retired may need to go back to work, which isn’t always easy due to ageism and employment gaps. 

Estate Planning and Related Documents

Gray divorcees should also consider their estate plans as they go through the divorce process. For example, you may have created a will or trust while married. Those documents probably include provisions that leave property to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. Since you probably don’t want your ex to receive your assets if you die, you’ll need to revisit and revise these estate planning documents.

Similarly, you probably listed your spouse as a beneficiary on insurance policies, property titles, bank accounts, and other documents. Make sure to change the beneficiary designations to prevent your ex from having a claim to them in the future.

Get Advice From Minnesota Divorce Lawyers Who Represent Older Clients

A skilled lawyer can provide guidance and support throughout the grey divorce process, helping their clients make informed decisions about property division, alimony, and other crucial aspects. They can also protect their clients’ rights while advocating for fair outcomes.

If you find yourself facing a grey divorce, seeking legal counsel from an experienced family law attorney can make all the difference in achieving a smooth transition into this new chapter of your life.

Based in Elk River, White & Associates understands the unique issues facing older people who are getting divorced. Our experienced Minnesota attorneys are here to listen to your situation and determine your case’s best course of action. 

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