Divorce is never easy, but certain circumstances can make the process harder for you. Having small children will often make divorce more complex, but waiting until later in life to file doesn’t guarantee an easier process.
When you are close to or over the age of retirement, your divorce becomes a gray divorce. While, technically, all of the same rules and laws apply regardless of your age, there are three significant ways in which gray divorce is different than divorce earlier in life.
1) Much more of your property will likely be subject to division
California is one of the few states that still uses the community property standard. The judge presiding over your divorce is free to split up all of the debt and income from your marriage, as well as the assets you gained, like community property. The longer your marriage lasts, the larger the portion of your property that is considered marital and, therefore, subject to division.
2) Spousal support or maintenance can be a much more crucial issue
When people divorce earlier in life, a previously dependent spouse has the opportunity to rejoin the workforce and establish a career. When you are already close to or past the typical age of retirement, it will be harder for a dependent spouse to go back to work and earn a competitive or living wage. A spouse who worked only part-time or who left the workforce entirely may have few resources to provide for themselves without alimony or spousal support.
3) Retirement benefits and even Social Security become focal points
When you don’t have much time left to save for retirement, existing retirement accounts and pensions become invaluable. Protecting your portion of an account or making sure your spouse shares with you could be your biggest concern. Understanding your rights regarding Social Security as the working spouse or dependent spouse may also factor into how you address finances.
Learning about the unique concerns for divorces later in life can help you protect yourself and your future when you end your marriage.