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Facing a Grey Divorce? Read these 7 Critical Issues first

grey divorce image
Divorce is difficult at any stage of life, but it could be more complex to navigate when you are older, approaching retirement, or already retired. In order to make sure everyone is treated fairly in a divorce, it’s important to consider these 7 critical issues for older couples seeking a separation.

What is a grey divorce?

A grey divorce, or a silver splitter, is a term for a demographic trend of a high divorce rate for older couples who have been married for a very long time.
These individuals may have married young to start a family, and followed a traditional family structure of the man going out to work and the woman staying home to raise children.
Once their adult children have grown up and started their own families, couples might decide they wish to start fresh on their own, or with a new partner.

What is different about divorce later in life?

Grey divorce is more complicated because of the long-lasting relationship and the incredibly complex financial situation. If one spouse has given up their entire career to care for their children, they would then need to be treated fairly following the divorce.
Untangling two lives will always be more complex when the couple has spent more time living together. Even simple things like determining who pays the bills during a divorce can have a big impact on your stress levels. Here are 7 important issues to consider when going through a grey divorce.

7 important issues to consider

1. Income might be more complex

When determining things like spousal support and how to divide assets, it’s important to have a clear picture of income sources. A grey divorce typically means that individuals are more advanced in their careers.
This means their income might not be as easily defined and they could have access to other financial benefits such as shares, bonuses, stock options, car allowances, health insurance, housing allowance, travel allowance and more. This needs to be taken into consideration when determining the full value of an individual’s income.

2. What counts as premarital assets

It might be more difficult to pick apart what was a premarital asset the longer you have been together. This is particularly true for couples that have started a business together. If the business only found success after the marriage, then this might lead a judge to consider it to be part of the marital assets. However, financial records might be spotty and difficult to trace.

3. What to do with inheritances

Older couples might have inheritances from their parents to consider. If the inheritance was received before marriage, then it would be separate property. But once you are married, it becomes part of the marital assets. This will need to be subject to careful scrutiny to ensure that everyone gets what they are entitled to.

4. Check your life insurance

Untangling your life insurance policy may be very complex if it is linked to a mortgage on a jointly owned property. It’s important to understand the terms of your life insurance policy and update the beneficiary after divorce to ensure that any payout goes to the right individuals.

5. Think about succession planning

If you run a business, you will need to think about succession planning, and how your plans will change after a divorce. If your spouse is a director in the business, you will need to determine how to handle this moving forward. The business may be a marital asset, in which case your spouse would be entitled to half of it. Instead of selling the business to make a lump sum payout, it would be in everyone’s best interests to find a way to give your ex-partner a share of the profits for a defined amount of time.

6. Impact on adult children

While your children might have grown up and started their own families, news that their parents are divorcing can still be a shock to them. Many adult children will try to resolve their parents’ issues and convince them to stay together, but this will rarely work.
Thinking about how a divorce will impact your adult children and how to break the news to them will certainly be a key consideration. While it might not be as traumatic as for a young child, there are still important things to consider before breaking the news to adult children.

7. Moving on

Divorce isn’t always prompted by the desire to be with someone else, sometimes it is simply about a fresh start. But eventually, you might decide that it’s time to get back out there. Moving on after a divorce might not happen right away, and there is no rush to do so. However, if you do decide to remarry, this may have implications for future spousal maintenance payments.


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