Any Texas divorce will have its complications. Some, however, are more difficult to navigate than others. For older people, the decision to divorce could lead to dramatic life changes. These cases – often referred to as a “gray” divorce – have certain challenges that other divorces might not. When moving forward with the end of a marriage after age 50, it is wise to consider the various factors that are prevalent with a gray divorce and take the necessary steps to mitigate them.
The common problems people face in a gray divorce
There are five basic issues that frequently arise as part of a gray divorce: property division, how to split the home, retirement accounts, insurance and preparing for a life after divorce. An older couple is likely to have accrued more assets than a younger couple. This is no surprise since they are generally more established in their personal and professional lives. Having more property can be a positive, but it may result in extended disputes as to which spouse will receive what as part of the case. Texas is a community property state meaning that the property that was acquired during the marriage is likely to belong to both. If there were gifts or inheritances, that may not be shared. Debts will also be divided and this could be a source of worry.
The marital home will be a major asset. People who are thinking about retaining the home should understand that they will need to cover its costs once the divorce is complete. Also, there might be a mortgage, lines of credit and other financial considerations. If there were children and they have left the nest, the sentimental attachment to the home could clash with the financial value and whether it is worth keeping. Selling it may result in taxes and disputes as to how it will be shared.
A retirement plan is a key for people in a gray divorce. An early withdrawal often has penalties. The type of plan itself will determine how best to divide it or if it even needs to be divided at all. With insurance, one party could be covered under the other’s health insurance and be left without coverage after the divorce. There are options to retain coverage such as COBRA, but it is important to gauge this when negotiating a settlement or as part of the court case.
Divorcing at an advanced age will frequently leave a person wondering how they will make ends meet. Understanding spousal maintenance, its amount and duration will be imperative. The law dictates the amount that will be paid based on certain guidelines such as the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and the supported spouse’s capabilities in getting sufficient work to maintain the lifestyle from the marriage.
Gray divorce grows more common
While the number of people getting divorced in general has trended downward over the past three decades, gray divorce has doubled. In addition, those who are on a second marriage have a far greater chance of getting a divorce. The advancement of social media is viewed as a contributory factor to divorce due to the ease at which people can communicate with others potentially leading to infidelity. Women were previously reliant on men for support. Today, they are better able to take care of themselves with professional advancement and could decide they do not want to stay in an unhappy marriage, especially if they are past a certain age and no longer need to worry about a stable home for their children.
Legal help may be crucial for any divorce
Divorce can be complicated legal terrain regardless of a person’s age. For those over 50, it may be exponentially problematic. Before moving forward with a settlement or getting a rapid divorce without considering the ramifications, legal help could be an essential part of a reasonable settlement. Consulting with experienced and caring attorneys who understand property and asset protection can be helpful.