Divorcing Later in Life

By Law Office of Karen S. Brown

Sometimes referred to as a “silver” or “gray divorce,” a divorce later in life brings with it a distinct set of concerns. If you’re over the age of 50 and are thinking about divorce, there are considerations to keep in mind that most younger people won’t have to worry about. If you’d like help navigating your own silver divorce and are in or around Los Angeles County, call the Law Office of Karen S. Brown to set up an initial consultation. Karen S. Brown has been helping clients with their family law needs for over 45 years and can serve those throughout the area, including Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino County, and the rest of California.

Common Reasons People Divorce Later in Life

People choose to divorce later in life for many of the same reasons that younger couples do—but they also face unique circumstances that may affect their decisions. Many couples at this age have already had children and have seen them grow and move out of the house. These “empty nesters” may have been staying together for the sake of their children, and are now realizing they don’t have the same connection to their spouse they once did. Others may be facing their final chapter in life and have realized they’re not where they want to be or with the person they want to be with. Of course, after so many years, it’s also common for couples to drift apart and change in ways that make them no longer compatible.

Gray Divorce: Things to Consider

Because many married couples who divorce later in life have spent years building their finances together, they often have more factors that need to be addressed, including their accumulated wealth.

  • Division of Assets: Most older couples have joint property and investments that have to be divided. You’ll need to have an in-depth discussion with your spouse and your attorney about what assets are considered “marital,” and which are “non-marital”—a distinction that can become blurry after decades of marriage.

  • Alimony: Alimony is not always necessary, but can be common especially if one spouse has been the breadwinner of the family and the other didn’t have a traditional source of income. Alimony may also be necessary if one spouse is financially dependent on the other due to a health condition or disability which would prevent them from gaining employment after the divorce.

  • Retirement: At this point in life, retirement accounts are likely to have accumulated a lot of equity and many have been jointly contributed to for years. In other cases, one or both spouses may already be retired and receiving payments from their retirement accounts. During the divorce proceedings, you’ll need to determine who is owed what out of these accounts, and in whose name the payments should be made. You’ll also have to consider the tax implications of these accounts and who will be responsible for them.

  • Life Insurance: If you currently have a joint life insurance policy you’ll have to decide how (and if) you’d like to split the value of it. Premiums on life insurance go up the older we get and to buy a new policy now will mean paying higher costs. Some couples may choose to keep their policies in place even after their divorce. You’ll also need to consider what kind of life insurance policy you hold if you’re paying or receiving alimony.

  • Social Security: The laws surrounding Social Security will vary depending on how old you are and how long you’ve been married. Generally speaking, if you’re over the age of 62 and have been married for more than 10 years, you can collect off your former spouse’s SS income without affecting the amount they receive. You can then also collect off your own account when you age in.

How the Law Office of Karen S. Brown Can Help

All divorces can be complex and difficult to navigate, but older couples face a specific set of challenges that require extra care and attention. Because so much of your future financial security depends on your divorce negotiations, you need a family law attorney working in your corner to ensure your needs are met and that you’re getting what you rightly deserve. If you’re in the Los Angeles County area or anywhere else in Southern California, call the Law Office of Karen S. Brown today to speak with an experienced attorney.