Gray Divorce – one involving older couples, often in long term marriages, frequently among empty nesters – continues to grow across many communities in New York and elsewhere in the United States. And this demographic trend is not only among high-profile or wealthy baby boomer couples who turn to divorce or separation after turning 50. We see more older clients, frequently women, wanting to start a new chapter of their life now that their kids are grown and have moved out of the house. And we see more Gray Divorces in second or third marriages. Some studies and publications note that Gray Divorce now represents almost 25% of all divorces nationwide.
Gray Divorcing couples have special needs to consider, including financial security and division of marital assets such as real property, where each is in their career, who will keep the pets, healthcare coverage, long term care insurance, and how older spouses will manage the stress of divorce and the effect of that stress on one’s overall health. Erin Colgan Law offers Gray Divorce services to individuals over 50 years of age in Staten Island to help prioritize their needs and weigh their separation options.
If You Are Older, Do You Need To Divorce? What Other Arrangements Are Possible?
When we meet with Gray Divorcing clients, we take the time to discuss not just the divorce process but the reality of divorce and the effect on life after more than 10 years in a marriage. While divorce may seem like the only option, we encourage clients to think about what their lives will look like on a day-to-day basis without the spouse who has been there throughout a long-term marriage. And we discuss options so clients can make an informed choice as to separating – or repairing – the marriage.
When divorce is the decided option, we coach clients to specify what they want in their new chapter and how they realistically see their ability to create it. We believe that it is especially important for those involved in Gray Divorce to navigate the transition with help from their network of family and friends.
What Are Some Of The Financial Challenges Those Over 50 Face?
Our clients often express concern for financial planning and security as well as their careers after divorce. We field questions including: Can I now make it alone if I was formerly part of a two-income family? After years raising children and running the household, how easy and necessary will it be for me to return to the workforce? Will I be entitled to spousal support and if so, will it cover my household expenses? If my marriage lasted at least 10 years, can I collect on my former spouses’ Social Security or other retirement benefits, including death benefits if they die before me? Will retirement benefits be split equally between us?
Financial impact is a given when couples divorce, and especially so in Gray Divorce cases. What seemed like a comfortable nest egg may now appear scrambled. In cases of Gray Divorce, the length of a marriage as well as the age and health profile of each spouse will impact the financial settlement.
At Erin Colgan Law we believe in engaging Certified Financial Planners or Certified Divorce Financial Analysts when appropriate to assist our clients early in the process of starting their new life chapters. Retirement packages are likely to be considered divisible assets. Our team not only has extensive experience working with spouses of government employees, civil servants, unionized workers, police, firefighters, EMTs, law enforcement, military, and other first responders but they are familiar with the different government employee salary, pension, and benefit plans including those with life and health insurance benefits and beneficiary designations. Unlike most family law firms, we also prepare the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (known as a QDRO) to satisfy the division of retirement assets that are governed by federal law and subject to certain I.R.S. tax code implications. To learn more about why a QDRO is needed in divorce, click here.
What Else Should I Expect When Divorcing After 50?
While many choose divorce after falling out of love or because they feel untethered in their relationship, perhaps finding empty nesting hard, or thinking they no longer have anything to talk about, some of the anticipated positives and the desire for something new may not pan out.
Loneliness is oftentimes cited as a factor after a divorce is finalized. Even if your former spouse frustrated you to no end, they will no longer be there with you after divorce and a void is likely to be perceived. We hear from clients that dating when older is frequently not what they imagined. Or that grown children may not react as expected or may still need their financial support. Since divorce can affect one’s physical and emotional health, bouncing back may be harder in later years – and a midlife crisis, limited mental capacity, or cognitive impairment is more likely to come into play than during one’s younger years.
At Erin Colgan Law we recognize that embarking on a new life chapter can be both exhilarating and daunting. We also feel it is incumbent as your attorney to offer both words of encouragement as well as the local professionals and resources you may need. Whether it is a therapist or a life coach, a travel agent or real estate broker, a hypnotherapist, accountant, moving company or a trusts and estates lawyer, we pride ourselves on coaching our clients to get needed support.
Your journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. At any age.
If you are contemplating divorce or have decided to separate or divorce from a long-term marriage in your later years and you have questions about the process or impact, call us at 718-981-5505 to schedule a consultation with Erin K. Colgan, Esq., Staten Island’s premier divorce attorney and certified mediator.