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How to protect yourself in a gray divorce

While divorce rates have fallen or leveled off for most age groups, one out of every four people going through a divorce in the United States is 50 or older, and the rate for so-called gray divorces has doubled in the past 25 years.

While experts point to many reasons for the increase, some of the more common explanations include couples growing apart, women seeking a more independent life and the disappearance of the stigma of divorce.

Understand important financial considerations

While you and your long-time partner have worked together to solve problems, divorce is a business transaction where each party is looking for their own best possible outcome. The top issues include:

  • Alimony: Be aware of your spouse’s total compensation package. That includes other earnings besides salary, such as stock options, executive perks, car and trip allowances, and ownership stakes in subsidiaries and other companies.
  • Dividing marital assets: Georgia is an equitable distribution state, meaning all property and debt acquired during a marriage is “fairly” divided by a judge, but that doesn’t mean it will be a 50/50 split.
  • Inheritance: Property bequeathed to one spouse is generally seen as separate property and is not subject to division during divorce. However, things get murky when those assets are commingled with marital funds for the benefit of both spouses.
  • Social Security: Spouses in long-term marriages may be eligible to collect Social Security from their spouse’s earnings, but they have to meet specific rules.
  • Life insurance: In many cases, the spouse ordered to pay alimony or child support is also required to carry a life insurance policy to cover future payments in case of their untimely death.
  • Retirement accounts: Pensions and other retirement assets, including 401(k)s, are typically considered marital property and subject to division.

Focus on the business side of divorce

Dividing property during a gray divorce can be a complicated process, especially in households where one spouse was the primary earner. However, an experienced family law attorney here in Georgia can help you make sense of the process and will diligently work for a favorable outcome.

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