Understanding Grey Divorce

Gray divorce

Understanding Grey Divorce

With baby boomers aging, more people over the age of 50 are seeking a divorce. This phenomenon is called a “grey divorce.” While it may seem like age would not matter in a divorce, it can affect several aspects of the process, with finances and property division being among some of the biggest concerns.  

Reasons for Grey Divorce

There are many reasons people may choose to get divorced later in life. Some reasons couples choose to get a grey divorce can include:

  • Longer Life Expectancy - People are living longer. Someone in a long term marriage might realize they don’t want to live the rest of their life in an unhappy relationship. Since there are still years left to find happiness, they decide to split up.
  • Growing Apart - After years of marriage, couples find that they are no longer compatible. Rather than stay together, they’ll opt to end their union.
  • All of The Children Have Moved On - Instead of divorcing, some couples will stay together because they are afraid of how it will impact their children. When the kids are all out of the house, they might choose this time to finally separate.
  • Financial Difficulties - Financial matters are one of the primary issues that lead to a couple deciding to split. This is common when there is debt involved, or neither spouse can agree on how to handle their joint finances. 

Dividing Property in a Grey Divorce

Only property acquired by either spouse during the marriage, also known as marital property, is equitably divided in a New York divorce.  Equitable means that the property is not automatically divided in half.   The courts determine the contribution that each party has made to the acquistion of the marital property.  Contribution is measured in many ways.  For example one party could have made a million dollars per year and the other party could have spent the marriage caring for the children.  The party caring for the children has made as much of a contribution to the acquistion of the marital assets as the money earning spouse.    For couples over the age of 50, there has been more time to acquire assets, meaning there is a lot of marital property to be divided in a grey divorce. This makes it more difficult to solve property division issues.

Since only marital property is divided, it can be a complicated process to determine which assets were from the marriage and which were acquired before the marriage. Property that was received before marriage may be considered separate property, and it will not be divided in a divorce. However, proving what property belonged to which spouse can be difficult in a grey divorce because many years have passed since the start of the marriage.

The Impact of a Grey Divorce on Retirement Benefits

One of the most significant issues for couples going through a grey divorce is how their retirement plans will be divided. Because New York’s equitable distribution laws, any retirement benefits received during the marriage, are subject to division. The court will use a formula to determine the percentage of the pension each party is entitled.  In general if a pension was acquired during the marriage, each party would be entitled to half the benefits.  

How Does a Grey Divorce Affect Maintenance (Alimony)?

In New York, maintenance is awarded accoding to a statutory formula.   The spouse who earns more money, who is called the  monied spouse will pay the nonmonied spouse maintenace accorind to a formula.  The time period maintenace is paid in general is governed by a different formula.   The purpose of maintenace  is to provide the nonmonied spouse with financial   until that spouse can provide for themselves.

Protect Yourself in a Grey Divorce

Divorcing later in life presents unique issues. A grey divorce can impact maintenace  property division, and retirement benefits. If you are considering getting a grey divorce, you need a New York divorce lawyer to help you determine the best course of action to take to protect your future. At Eiges & Orgel, we will stand by your side to ensure you receive a positive outcome.

Contact Eiges & Orgel, PLLC today at (347) 848-1850 to speak with an attorney about your grey divorce concerns.

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