Financial and Emotional Issues in a Grey Divorce
Overall, the divorce rate has declined significantly since the 1990s. But the grey divorce rate has tripled for people over 55. More people now see divorce as a morally acceptable way to end an unsatisfying marriage. Additionally, most people live much longer and more active lives than they did in the 1980s. So, for a person over 55, another twenty years in a lackluster marriage is something to avoid.
As a general rule, dissolving a long-term marriage is a very daunting challenge for Port St. Lucie divorce attorneys. Fortunately, these challenges are not as complex in Florida. However, there are still some unique issues to work out.
Many people over 55 have considerable home equity, or even own their homes outright. Furthermore, many people have rather large retirement accounts. There are other financial issues as well, which are unique to grey divorce.
As for the house, if the couple has no minor children, selling the house and dividing the proceeds may be the best approach. But if the market is depressed, or there are minor children at home, keeping the house, at least for the time being, may be a better choice. There may be a way to divide equity and also retain home ownership.
Assume Husband and Wife own their home outright. Wife plans to stay in the house with a teenage son. Wife could keep the house, if Husband receives an owelty lien for partition. This lien is for his share of the home equity as of the date of divorce. Later, when Wife sells the house, Wife must pay Husband’s lien out of the sale proceeds.
Many times, retirement accounts are just as large as home equity accounts. Additionally, retirement accounts often have an emotional value. They are more than numbers on a spreadsheet. They also represent future security and a reward for long-term financial sacrifice. Finally, if the owner spouse has been married before, the account has probably been divided once. So, hanging onto what is left becomes a priority.
An offset may be appropriate. For example, Wife might agree to take more alimony payments in lieu of a large retirement account share.
That point brings us to the last financial area in a grey divorce. The amount and duration of alimony payments must match the obligee’s financial need, as well as the obligor’s ability to pay. Furthermore, Florida law does not require non-residential parents to contribute to college costs. If the family intends for both spouses to contribute, there must be a separate order in the decree. An offset may be appropriate here as well.
Adult children often have a harder time dealing with a parental divorce than young children. Adult children have a lifetime of memories, and it is difficult to deal with these feelings. Additionally, many adults are less emotionally resilient than many children.
There are some ways to avoid possible emotional complications. Many older divorcing couples hold a final family reunion or other large gathering, to give the children closure. Also, it’s a good idea to be mindful of the emotional effects. Do not bring a new dating partner or spouse to a graduation, wedding, or other family event.
It’s very important to head off emotional issues in advance. If one child “blames” one parent for the divorce and cuts off grandparent-grandchild contact, grandparents have very limited visitation rights in Florida.
Contact a Compassionate Lawyer
Grey divorces often involve unique financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. After-hours visits are available.