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Getting Through a Grey Divorce


All divorces have both emotional and financial issues. Over 55 divorces have these issues as well, but they are a bit different, as outlined below.

Regardless of the parties’ age, most divorces end the same way. In almost all cases, a Port St. Lucie divorce attorney is able to resolve these matters out of court. Such settlements usually benefit everyone. They are less expensive than litigation. Furthermore, mutual agreements typically increase voluntary compliance. That means fewer trips back to court for enforcement actions.

Frequently, the parties in a divorce agree on broad principles but disagree on the specifics. This blog is about how attorneys deal with these specific issues.

Retirement Account

When younger people divorce, their savings are often negligible. But when older couples divorce, a retirement account is often the largest asset in the marriage dissolution. Furthermore, since these accounts might have been divided once because of a prior divorce. So, most account holders want to retain as much as possible.

First, it’s necessary to classify the account as marital or nonmarital property. Assume Rick and Sarah were married for ten years. Rick has worked for thirty years and saved $2,000 per year. Of his $60,000 401(k), $20,000 is marital property subject to division. The remainder is untouchable in this divorce.

That 20k must be divided equitably, which is not necessarily the same thing as equally. Some factors to consider include:

  • Length of the Marriage: Ten years is on the edge of a lengthy marriage, as far as Florida divorce law is concerned. Therefore, the factor weighs in favor of a 50-50 division. If Rick and Sarah had only been married a few years, that could be a different story.
  • Sarah’s Noneconomic Contributions: The so-called “homemaker factor” is often negligible when people get married in their 30s. Normally, these couples do not have young children at home.
  • Relative Earning Capacity: If Sarah and Rick are in roughly the same condition physically and otherwise, the retirement account should probably be split 50-50. If Sarah is unable to earn much money, she might be entitled to a disproportionate share, especially since divorced women usually have a hard time rebuilding wealth.

These same factors usually apply to a home equity division.

The rules are slightly different with regard to military retirement accounts. On a related note, military divorces also involve some non-monetary financial matters, such as PX privileges or VA benefits.

Home Equity

When younger people get divorced, they often have little home equity. In the first years of home ownership, most payments go to prepaid interest. But when older couples divorce, they often have substantial home equity.

Frequently, a sell-and-divide approach is best. This technique allows the couple to have a clean break and move on. But for various reasons, such as a soft market, sell-and-divide is not always a good idea.

In these situations, one spouse often retains the house, and the other spouse obtains an owelty lien for partition. When the owner sells the house, the buyer must pay the lien.

Child Visitation

Most couples over 55 do not have minor children. However, many couples this age have grandchildren, and a grey divorce affects them as well.

Frequently, adult children “blame” a parent for the divorce. The children might retaliate by cutting off contact between grandchildren and grandparents. The grandparents might have some legal options in these situations, depending on the facts.

To avoid this emotional problem, many grey divorcees have open and honest discussions with their children. Staged events, like one last family Christmas, usually work well at all.

Reach Out to a Dedicated Lawyer

Divorce over 55 involves some intricate issues. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. We routinely handle matters throughout the Treasure Coast area.





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