Divorce among people 50 and older has nearly tripled over the past 30 years. In 1990, one out of every 10 couples over 50 ended their marriage, while today more than one in four files for a so-called gray divorce.

Taking that step can be especially challenging for couples who have spent many years together, sharing love, pain and memories as well as raising children and possibly having grandchildren.

Understand the primary financial issues

Spouses undergoing a gray divorce can face many uncertainties, not just from an emotional standpoint, but also from a financial perspective. That’s why it’s essential to understand the four main challenges:

  • Retirement: Regardless of whether one spouse has been the primary earner, pensions and other retirement accounts are subject to equitable distribution in Rhode Island, meaning a judge will determine a fair division of those funds, but it may not be a 50/50 split. Social Security benefits earned during a marriage are also considered a marital asset and are subject to division.
  • Dividing assets: A primary challenge in gray divorce is establishing marital and non-marital assets. The length of many of these unions can make it difficult to identify property one spouse had before marriage. While one may have been the primary earner, judges consider many factors when dividing property, such as the length of the marriage, the conduct of both spouses and their ability to earn after the divorce.
  • Health insurance: Spouses who are too young to receive Medicare, unemployed and depend upon their partner for health insurance benefits can face a major challenge. Benefits under a spouse’s plan end when the divorce is final, and the need to acquire their own insurance can be costly, coming at a time when a person’s health can start to deteriorate while premiums rise.
  • Adult children: Many parents who divorce later in life come to depend upon their kids for emotional as well as financial support, which can strain those relationships. In some cases, children invest a lot of time and energy into trying to save the marriage or take one of their parent’s sides and oppose the other. The impact can be overwhelming for children who are establishing their own families and careers.

Focus on the future

Gray divorce can be a complicated process, especially when it comes to dividing property after many years together. An experienced and compassionate family law attorney here in Rhode Island can help you navigate the process and will work to ensure that you receive your fair share of marital assets.