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Attorney Christopher T. Adams

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In grey divorces property division can get especially complicated

This article looks at grey divorce with a focus on why property division is more complicated during it.

Baby Boomers are divorcing in record numbers and that has helped fuel the so-called ‘grey divorce’ boom. As MarketWatch reports, for Americans aged 50 and up the divorce rate has doubled since 1990, even though for younger couples divorce has either declined or held steady. Older Americans are divorcing more frequently for a variety of reasons, including increased lifespans, a high likelihood that both spouses are financially independent, and the fact that for many Baby Boomers their children are now moving out of the house. Grey divorce presents many opportunities for Baby Boomers, but it is important to keep in mind, especially as regards property division, complications can arise when getting divorced later in life.

How grey divorce is simpler

The good news about grey divorce is that in some ways it is actually simpler than getting divorced earlier in life. For one, most gray divorcees do not have young children, which means that issues like child custody and support are usually not a factor. At the same time, however, many grey divorcees may be helping their adult children in other ways, such as by assisting them with their first mortgage or student loans. That assistance is something that should be addressed in a divorce agreement.

Choosing assets carefully

On the other hand, grey divorce tends to get more complicated where the division of property is concerned. Especially if the divorce is coming after decades of marriage, then the couple is likely to have more assets to their name than a younger couple would have. Furthermore, many of the assets that the couple acquired early in their relationship may have risen substantially in value. Under Georgia law, a marital estate need not necessarily be divided 50-50, which means that it is imperative that each spouse know how much the estate is worth and how much of it may belong to them.

Retirement on the horizon

Finally, perhaps the biggest factor that informs most grey divorce negotiations is the prospect of retirement. Most people going through a grey divorce simply do not have many more working years left to rebuild their retirement nest eggs . That means that for most grey divorcees the goal is both avoiding a costly contested divorce while also negotiating an agreement that provides the best financial protection for an upcoming retirement. As CNBC points out, most of the money in the couple’s 401(k)s, 457 or 403(b) accounts, pensions, and individual retirement plans can be divided, even if they are only in the name of one spouse. Because such assets are liquid, they tend to provide better protection during retirement than other assets (like real estate) can provide.

Family law advice

Every divorce is different, but what remains the same is the need for each spouse to get experienced legal advice before signing any divorce agreement. The terms of the divorce agreement will have an impact on each spouse’s life and well-being for years to come. For that reason, a family law attorney should be consulted as soon in the divorce process as possible.