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How a Gray Divorce is Different from a Divorce Earlier in Life

You might be familiar with the term “gray divorce.” If you are not, it refers to divorces between individuals who are 50 years old or older. Gray divorce is a growing trend in the United States: since 1990, the divorce rate for individuals over the age of 50 has doubled. For those over 65, it has increased nearly threefold.

Many of these individuals have been married for decades, which is part of what makes the trend so surprising. When a couple divorces after 50 or later in life, they have certain issues to consider that they might not have had to think about if they had divorced in their 30s or 40s. In exchange for these new concerns, there are issues that older couples generally do not have to worry about that younger couples face.

Retirement is Not a Distant Issue

When determining child and spousal support agreements, the number of years each party has until retirement is considered. If you are within 10 or 15 years of retirement, the court will take this into consideration when making decisions about the division of your property and any maintenance agreements to arrange. You should also keep it in mind because a divorce could significantly alter your retirement accounts and by extension, your retirement plans.

Your Children are at or Near Adulthood

When a couple’s children are small, the court determines an appropriate custody schedule that allows them to develop and maintain quality, consistent relationships with each parent. But when a couple’s children are grown, this is not an issue to consider during the couple’s divorce.

An issue that they may need to consider, though, is how they will handle their children’s higher education costs. Talk to your lawyer about your state’s law regarding whether a parent may be required to contribute to his or her child’s college expenses and how you can set aside money for this in your divorce settlement.

It Can be Impossible to Change the Status Quo

By this, we mean that if one party opted to leave the workforce or take on part-time work to care for the home and family during the couple’s marriage, it might be impossible or highly unlikely that he or she can enter the workforce and become self-sufficient at this stage of life. Although spousal maintenance agreements are often temporary rather than permanent, today an individual in this situation may be able to be granted permanent spousal maintenance.

Work with an Experienced La Crosse Divorce Attorney

If you are considering filing for divorce, no matter what your age or how long you have been married, speak with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss all of your options before you proceed. Set up your legal consultation with a member of our team of divorce attorneys at Moen Sheehan Meyer, Ltd. We have been a part of the La Crosse community for more than a century and will rely on our knowledge of divorce law to help you make the most productive choices for your case.

Published August 10, 2016
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