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Property division and spousal support in gray divorces

Divorces involving older couples are becoming more common in Pennsylvania and around the country. What is known as the gray divorce rate has more than doubled in the last three decades, and property division and spousal support negotiations tend to be more complicated when spouses over the age of 55 are involved. These talks frequently touch on complex financial matters, so it may be wise for spouses to prepare themselves thoroughly even if a bitter court battle seems unlikely.

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means marital assets and liabilities should be divided equitably but not necessarily evenly. This can be a complicated process in a gray divorce when retirement and investment accounts are involved and the spouses have signed several joint loans. Cashing in these accounts and dividing the money may be a straightforward approach, but taking this path will usually lead to early withdrawal penalties and higher tax bills.

Negotiating spousal support can also be more complex when older couples divorce as stock options and executive perks can make calculating income a challenge. Older spouses who will be receiving alimony should ask the paying spouse to take out a life insurance policy so that support will still be paid if the paying spouse pass away. The spouse receiving alimony should control the policy to ensure that beneficiary designations are not changed.

Family law attorneys with experience in gray divorce cases may suggest addressing these issues in mediation sessions. A more collaborative atmosphere might produce more candid talks and an amicable settlement that allows both spouses to enjoy financial security during their retirement years. Before initiating a gray divorce, attorneys may ask their clients if they have been married for 10 years. This is because divorced spouses who were married for less than 10 years are not able to receive Social Security benefits based on their husband or wife's contributions.

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