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What issues are common in a ‘gray divorce?’

On Behalf of | Sep 21, 2021 | Family Law |

Couples in Forney may have spent many years together united, building careers and raising a family. Sadly, as much as a couple starting off in life may have anticipated growing old together, once the years have passed a couple may find that their union is no longer happy and may wish to divorce.

One may think that divorce is only for those in bitter arrangements, but this is not only so. Some older couples, these days, get what is colloquially known as a “gray divorce” — that is, a divorce of those in the 50’s, 60’s or older. Older couples facing a “gray divorce” may not be at each other’s throats, but also may no longer desire to remain together as a couple. The following are some issues those facing a gray divorce may face.

Children in a gray divorce

When younger parents divorce, child custody decisions are of paramount importance. When making child custody decisions the best interests of the child must prevail. This may mean each parent shares joint legal custody and/or joint physical custody. Other times, one parent may have sole legal and/or physical custody of the minor child. In addition, one parent will likely have to pay child support to the other parent as their contribution to meeting the child’s financial needs.

However, if a couple divorces in their 50’s, 60’s or older, their children have likely flown the nest, are independently living on their own and may even be married with children themselves. While an adult child will certainly be affected by their parent’s divorce, they are no longer dependent on their parents to meet their daily care needs. Thus, a gray divorce can be simpler in the sense that generally child custody and child support are not issues that need to be resolved during the divorce process.

Alimony and property division in a gray divorce

While child-related issues may not be on the table in a gray divorce, alimony and property division may take center stage. Alimony, also known as spousal support or spousal maintenance, are payments made by one spouse to the other to place both parties in a position of financial independence. While alimony may be temporary for younger couples who can both seek and hold down a job, alimony for older couples may be made permanent.

This may especially be true if one spouse has been out of the workforce for decades because they were committed to raising their family at home or if the receiving spouse is of an age or health, where going back into the workforce is not an option.

Property division also becomes a primary issue in a gray divorce, especially when it comes to retirement assets. It is important for spouses going through a gray divorce to note that dividing certain retirement accounts require additional steps, such as obtaining a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

Moreover, if neither spouse is working anymore, it is important that the division of assets is fair and appropriate. Texas is a community property state when it comes to property division. This means that each spouse has an equal ownership interest in all marital property, which will be divided evenly between them in a divorce. Marital property includes income and assets earned or purchased by either spouse during the marriage.

Learn more about a gray divorce

We all dream of happily ever after when we are young. However, what defines “happiness” changes as we age and if our happiness looks significantly different from that of our spouse it may be time to consider divorce. Divorce does not deserve the negative stigma it has among some circles.

It is a reasonable and pragmatic way for two people to move forward into their life on footing that makes them both happy, even if it means ending their marriage and moving forward separately. Those who are interested in learning more about a gray divorce can work with a professional experienced in such matters.