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Issues in gray divorce

The aging of our population has created an interesting phenomenon in family law, the rise of the so-called gray divorce. Divorce has become increasingly common among empty nesters and people reaching retirement age. While a split can be challenging at any age, older couples face a variety of issues that their younger counterparts need not worry about. Any Texas resident divorcing after age 50 should keep these issues in mind.

First, consider your plans for retirement. Pension and 401(k) benefits are marital property and are subject to asset division in divorce. The closer you are to your planned retirement date, the more difficult it will be to replenish those funds. Also, consider the impact of divorce on your social security benefits. Social security cannot be divided in divorce, but it can be used to offset other assets or earnings. Another consideration is what would happen if one spouse were offered an early retirement package or cash buyout in lieu of a traditional pension benefit. How would that money be divided?

Spousal support is another common issue in gray divorces, particularly when one spouse has been out of the workforce for a number of years. Consider how long the obligation for alimony will continue. When a long-term marriage ends, it is not uncommon for spousal support to be awarded until the spouse's death or remarriage. Be sure to consider whether the obligation would be modified upon the retirement of the spouse paying alimony.

Although issues of child custody and child support may not come into play for older divorcing couples, issues related to the division of retirement plans and spousal support may present just as much of a challenge. In Texas, experienced divorce attorneys may help address these issues so that people who are going through divorces are better able to obtain equitable divisions of assets.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Gray Divorce," Henry Gornbein, March 6, 2013

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