While younger people are more likely to delay marriage and often live together until they are sure about marriage, older individuals grew up during different times and married quickly. Now decades later, they are divorcing in much higher numbers than the younger generations. Couples ending a marriage after many decades face “grey or gray divorce”. They will deal with different and often more complicated situations than their junior counterparts. If you are a Baby Boomer (60 plus), or over 50, and especially if you have been married for 10 or more years, you will need to prepare for your new future. The team at Cobb Cole Law Firm can help you navigate the rough waters.
With a long marriage, the family residence is generally the biggest asset. In most areas of the United States, real estate has increased greatly in the last few decades and even a modest home may have grown in value from $200,000.00 to over $800,000.00 or more. There are often so many memories in the family home that it can be hard to think of it as a purely financial asset. However, it is usually in the best interest of both parties to sell the home and divide profits for separate living spaces. An alternative is for one party to buy the other out by using separate personal funds or by refinancing the home. Working with financial professionals, the Family Law Attorneys at Cobb Cole can help customize solutions like exchanging other assets (wine or car collection) for home equity.
As health care becomes more critical and more expensive with aging, coverage and premiums are key issues in gray divorce. If you have health insurance through your spouse’s company, that coverage will generally end upon divorce. It is important to make sure that providing coverage will continue as part of the divorce. Don’t just assume government programs will cover your needs or the family doctor. If you are the main financial provider, you may need to carry life insurance to cover healthcare, alimony, and other divorce obligations.
Know Your Worth
Before you can fairly divide your financial assets, you have to know what they are, where they are, and what they are worth. This can be extremely difficult to determine in a long-term marriage where funds have been in different accounts and come from many different sources. Did your husband’s successful business get started with money you inherited from Aunt Edna? Did you work in the early lean years while most of the money was reinvested into the business? You will need to spend some time going through your memory and old records to trace some of the money trails. You also need to make sure you know the value of any special collections or other unusual assets.
And what is your spouse’s full income (base salary is just the beginning, there are retirement accounts and much more)? Retirement benefits, investment accounts, social security, and alimony all must be determined and divided. If both of you have similar incomes and benefits packages, the Court can allow each of you to keep your own accounts. But if you have differing incomes or one of you stays at home caring for the family, your spouse will need to continue to provide for you. Alimony allows you to continue to pay for your needed expenses. Retirement benefits will need to be divided and a special court order (QDRO) issued to the company to make sure they are paid to both parties.