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Understanding property division in a "gray divorce"

More older Americans in Florida and across the country are considering divorce. In the past 20 years, divorce rates for Americans aged 50 and up have doubled, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. While divorce can be an appropriate choice at any age, these so-called "gray divorces" carry additional financial consequences. While retirement assets are an important part of property division in a divorce at any age, they become more critical the closer the couple gets to retirement age.

Reaching a divorce settlement in a gray divorce can be complicated due to negotiations over how to handle the division of retirement accounts. When an older couple has only married recently, the issue is less significant, but it can be a major concern for couples who were married for decades. Each partner has a limited amount of time to attempt to rebuild their retirement funds, and it costs more to fund two single retirements out of the same pot of money originally destined for one joint retirement. In many cases, there is only one retirement account for both partners; older couples are more likely to follow the breadwinner-homemaker model.

In addition, the family home can be an important asset in a divorce, both because of its financial value as well as its sentimental worth. In some cases, one partner may walk away with the house in exchange for an equivalent share of the retirement funds. Still, experts advise that in many cases, the best action is to sell the home and invest the proceeds for retirement while downsizing after divorce.

When people of any age think about divorce, the financial effects can outweigh the emotional and practical concerns. A family law attorney may be able to provide advice, guidance and representation to a divorcing spouse on key issues, including property division and spousal support.

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