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Gray Divorce: What You Need to Know

Divorce can be difficult at any age, but it can be particularly stressful and complicated when you are over the age of 50. A large portion of the population is reaching senior status and according to the Pew Research Center, the rate of people divorcing over the age of 50 has increased substantially since 1990. You and your partner may be empty-nesters and may realize that the relationship is no longer satisfactory. As you approach your twilight years you may want to improve the quality of your life and relationships. There are some things you should know before you start the divorce process.

Consider Your Finances

Couples who divorce over the age of 50 are likely to have been married for a number of years or decades. A couple’s finances are going to be intertwined, and it could be difficult to prove that any of your belongings are personal as opposed to marital property. In addition, you are more likely to own many more assets and might have built up a large estate. If you are preparing for divorce, you should obtain copies of all your financial records including bank accounts, mortgage and loan information, homes and property, pension and retirement accounts, and stocks and other investments. Make a list of your assets along with their approximate value.

You and your spouse will need to provide a financial disclosure as part of the divorce. Unfortunately, sometimes a spouse may try to hide or remove assets. It is important to know that if a spouse lies in the financial statement, he or she could face legal penalties. Take a snapshot of your finances at the time you separate and discuss any possible fraud with your divorce attorney immediately.

Need for Spousal Maintenance

In gray marriages, it may be more likely that only one spouse works outside the home. If one spouse has not worked in a long time, that party may be entitled to spousal maintenance, also known as support or alimony. Spousal maintenance is designed to assist a financially-dependent party after a divorce. Both parties should be left in approximately the same financial situation after they divorce. The judge will take various factors into consideration when determining alimony such as the spouses’ levels of education, status of health, career experience, and the length of the marriage, among others.

According to Wisconsin law, the judge may grant maintenance for either a limited time or for an indefinite period. Limited or temporary alimony is generally provided for those who need some time to reenter the workforce. Permanent maintenance will continue until the party remarries or upon the death of one of the parties.

Couples who decide to divorce after years of marriage often face many complex issues that they need to sort through. Although you may both agree to end the marriage, various issues arise that could cause the situation to become acrimonious. It is best to seek guidance from an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will guide the process and protect your rights. Contact Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. today for an initial consultation.

Published August 2, 2019
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