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Divorce at any age can be challenging but for the many seniors opting for divorce later in life, financial instability may climb to the top of the list. Grey divorce began trending as one of the most powerful generations, the baby boomers, are vacating their marriages at an alarming rate. It is reported that for every four divorces, one involves a couple 50 years or older. The trajectory for grey divorce estimates that Americans over the age of 50 are now twice as likely to divorce as their predecessors of 20 years ago.
Not only is this a trending topic, but one that involves new challenges, especially financial concerns. Unlike their counterparts who divorcing in their twenties or thirties and are discussing family law issues such as child custody, older couples face a different set of issues to contend with. Financial advisors urge those involved in a grey divorce to review retirement plans, real estate, business, and most importantly, debt.
Retirement Accounts: Division of Assets
It is imperative to conduct an analysis of all retirement asset accounts of both spouses. If not, important provisions such as future values of these accounts and company benefits may be overlooked.
To equitably divide assets in 401(k)s or traditional pension plans, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) may be required. A QDRO is a legal document that protects both husband and wife from taxes at time of liquidation and division. For non-qualified plans, bank accounts and Certificates of Deposit (CD), the division of these accounts will be determined during the divorce proceedings.
Real Estate: Exploring the Market
Often during a grey divorce, the wife has become emotionally attached to the family home. So many memories and so much time invested, but with the new developments, will it be feasible for the wife to continue to burden herself with a mortgage, taxes and repair bills?
Perhaps, the best financial option may be to place the home on the market, divide the equity and perhaps buy something smaller or decide on maintenance-free condominium living.
Health Insurance: Bridging the Gap
If one spouse is currently covered by the other’s health insurance this is of major concern. Most often COBRA insurance options are provided but at a higher cost often making it clearly unaffordable.
If at the time of legal dissolution of marriage, the uncovered spouse has yet to reach age 65 years, Medicare is currently out-of-reach and the couple may want to consider legal separation instead of divorce, which allows couples to keep health care coverage but still divide other assets.
Debt: Accepting Responsibility
Determining debt is probably one of the most crucial areas for a couple in a grey divorce. Full disclosure should be practiced with the first step requiring the ordering of each spouse’s credit report from the three reporting credit agencies before beginning a dialogue on debt liability.
If you and your spouse are moving toward a grey divorce situation, the experienced Hinsdale divorce attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio would like to suggest mediation or the process of handling the divorce negotiations outside of the court. By bypassing legal litigation, we will prepare and file all the necessary documentation while openly discussing as key issues as they relate to your situation. Contact our offices today to learn more about our service