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Gray Divorce on the Rise

When spouses seeking a divorce are over fifty years old, it is often called “Gray Divorce”. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, the number of Gray Divorces has roughly doubled since 1990. For those over 50 years old, about 10 out of every 1,000 married individual end up divorced. For those over 65 years old, divorce rates have nearly tripled. At this later stage in life, a divorce can present unique issues and tremendous risk. Often, Gray Divorcees can be less financially secure as compared to other divorced individuals, this is especially true for women.

For Gray Divorcees, it is important to consider the implications of issues such as retirement, social security benefits, and health insurance.

Retirement: In some cases, one spouse may have a substantial retirement while the other spouse does not. While this retirement may have been enough for both parties to live off of while together, after a divorce the amount may not be sufficient to cover the cost of two households. In addition, early withdrawal or division of certain retirement accounts may carry substantial financial penalties, reducing the overall retirement amount. Often a retirement, pension or other deferred compensation account such as a 401K is subject to a division between the parties through use of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). Laws governing QDRO's are quite complex and it is essential to have a keen understanding of the implications a divorce may have on division of various retirement accounts.

Social Security Benefits: Typically, Social Security benefits are not divided by the Court. However, when the spouses have earned significantly different amounts of income during the marriage, one spouse may be entitled to a more substantial Social Security benefit than the other. As such, the Court may order Spousal Support to bridge the gap. Additionally, a spouse who has been married for at least 10 years may be entitled to Social Security benefits at the level of the higher earner. Understanding how divorce impacts Social Security benefits can be quite important to those over 50 years old.

Health Insurance: A very common issue for individuals who are over 50 is health insurance. Often a divorced spouse can no longer remain on the other spouse’s health insurance plan. When health insurance is a substantial concern, consideration of Legal Separation should take place. In doing so, the separating couple can still divide property, allocate debts, receive spousal support, and yet remain on existing health insurance of the other spouse. At a later date, either spouse can decide to convert a legal separation into a divorce by filing a motion with the Court.

Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty divorce and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your situation.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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