Gray divorce is at a historical high. You may have spent decades with your spouse, but the spark started to flicker out and you want to find happiness again. As a Cullman gray divorce attorney, I can tell you that the time of senior divorces being taboo is over.
Spouses over 50 make up 25% of all divorces, and 1 in 10 divorces are people 65+.
A gray divorce, or senior divorce, is a term used for older couples that choose to divorce later in life. One study found that people aged 65 or older are the only divorce group that continues to increase. A shift in love, marriage and the willingness to remain in an unhappy relationship is over for many soon-to-be or existing seniors.
Our clients usually select one of two options:
Divorce is final. You chose to dissolve the marriage. Assets will be divided by the court, and you have a 100% split from your spouse.
Legal separation occurs when spouses reassess their wants and needs and find that the relationship isn’t part of their future plans. A separation maintains marriage benefits and allows for separate living situations.
What marriage benefits are maintained? Think of health insurance coverage, which may be tied to your spouse’s employment. Gray and senior divorcees still qualify for their spouse’s Social Security benefits.
Note: If the marriage did not last 10+ years, you may not qualify for your spouse’s benefits.
You can go through asset division, and once the separation is legal, you still have the option of going back into the marriage if you wish. You can terminate the separation at any time.
As your Cullman gray divorce attorney, we’ll review your circumstances and discuss if a divorce or separation is in your best interest.
Gray and senior divorces are never easy. You may have spent more than half your life with a person, and while anything can lead to divorce, the most common causes are:
Caring for children, providing for them, and maintaining the status quo no longer exists. Empty nest syndrome often leads to couples finally having the time to be alone with each other. However, 18+ years of raising a child and trying to be the best parents possible often lead to your love life being put on the back burner.
Adapting to marriage after the kids are gone can lead to differences that you cannot overcome.
Kids are an incentive to stay in a relationship, but now it’s time to put your own happiness first.
As a Cullman senior divorce lawyer, we know that life changes. Major life transitions can be too much for your marriage to withstand, leading to doubt and uncertainty. You may find that in retirement, your likes, dislikes, and ideas no longer align as they once did.
Other major life transitions, such as selling the family home or medical issues, can lead to divorce.
You and your spouse want to find happiness. Years have passed, your wants and needs have changed, and you may not be on the same page when it comes to things like traveling, hobbies, work, and social life.
Finances can also lead to seniors calling a Cullman gray divorce attorney. We’ve seen it all:
Gray divorces have some unique aspects that your Cullman gray divorce attorney can help you navigate. Because the separation is happening later in life, there are likely more assets at stake and other concerns, such as long-term care and retirement.
The unique aspects of a gray divorce include:
Often, gray divorces involve couples that have been married for decades. In this case, Social Security may be a part of the equation.
If the couple has been married for at least ten years prior to the divorce and one spouse earns less than the other, the lesser-earning spouse may be eligible for a portion of the other spouse’s benefits.
The court cannot divide Social Security benefits, but the lesser-earning spouse can apply to receive a portion of the other spouse’s benefits as a part of their own personal benefit.
At this stage in life, married couples often have a greater variety of higher-valued assets. Often, couples going through a gray divorce have had decades to build up a portfolio together, and this can make the proceedings more complicated.
Furthermore, couples that have built a life together for many years often develop an emotional attachment to their assets, particularly the marital home. It may also be hard to part with antiques and other treasured items.
When couples divorce near or at retirement age, their retirement accounts will be highly valuable assets and a point of contention in the proceedings.
Marriages that last for decades are more likely to involve spousal support.
If one spouse dedicated their life to raising the family or supporting their partner’s career, alimony may be awarded. In many cases, this can complicate the process and lead to fighting among the spouses.
Alabama law makes it clear that if you do not change beneficiaries on your life insurance, the spouse has a right to the proceeds, unless a special clause was added to the policy. It’s important to update your life insurance policy as part of the divorce proceedings. Some types of life insurance may also be considered during the division of assets.
Couples going through a gray divorce may be in perfect health at the time of their separation. However, the risk of health issues only increases with age.
If one spouse already has medical issues or has stayed at home to raise the family, securing health insurance coverage can be challenging and costly. These costs are something that should be considered when dividing assets and determining spousal support.
An estimated 70% of adults aged 65 and older will need long-term care at some point. The cost of long-term care can be significant and must be considered when calculating alimony or dividing assets.
The implications of a divorce on estate plans are significant and require a great amount of attention. When spouses are named as beneficiaries, trustees or executors on estate planning documents, negotiations and changes will need to be made to ensure both parties’ wishes are met.
If you’re facing divorce later in life, one of your primary concerns will be cost. The cost of a Cullman divorce attorney can vary greatly, depending on several factors.
A flat fee divorce can cost $1,500-$5,000+. However, gray divorce attorneys often charge by the hour. The average hourly rate for their services is $250 or more.
While cost is a natural concern, it’s important to remember that your attorney will be guiding you through your divorce. They will be advocating for your rights and taking steps to reduce some of the stress of the process.
Working with an attorney who has experience with gray divorce cases will help you achieve the best possible outcome in your divorce.
Divorce is complex and emotionally challenging for all parties. Navigating the proceedings can feel overwhelming. We’re here to help.
As your Cullman senior divorce lawyer, we can guide you through your divorce and help you move on to the next phase of your life.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your gray divorce in Cullman, Blount, Morgan, and Winston Counties.