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What Factors Should Be Considered in a Silver-Era Divorce?

Posted by Lee Zavatsky | Sep 07, 2022

A “silver-era” divorce, also called a “gray divorce,” refers to couples getting a divorce when they are over 50 years old and have been married for a long time. These types of divorces have some unique factors from a traditional California divorce, such as child custody, child support, and visitation are not typically involved in the final divorce decree.

Over the past few decades, high-asset and high-net-worth silver-era divorces have risen sharply. Due to the divorcing couple's ages, health, finances, pensions, investments, and other factors, these divorces get complicated quickly.

Silver Era Divorce Attorney in California
A silver-era divorce has many unique challenges.

Suppose you fall into the silver-era divorce category. In that case, you need to seek professional legal guidance from an experienced California family law attorney to protect your legal rights and to have the best chance at a favorable outcome.

Like traditional divorce, you must understand community property laws and how spousal support works. After a lengthy marriage, couples are much more likely to have a complex financial situation in the context of ending the marriage.

Further, “back in the day,” one spouse typically stayed home full-time to care for the children and to support the other spouse's career throughout their marriage, which makes alimony payments more likely. Additionally, older divorcing couples are less likely to have a prenuptial agreement.

In other words, divorcing after 50 and after a prolonged marriage has unique challenges that a younger couple who were only married for less than ten years will not face. In this article by our California divorce and family law attorneys, we will examine this subject further below.

How Are Community Assets Divided?

Let's start by reviewing the complications of a silver-era divorce, including dividing marital assets, such as community property.

Suppose you have been married for 40+ years, meaning any separate property has probably been long forgotten. About anything you own would most likely fall under the community property umbrella to be split equally.

Gray-Era Divorce in California
In a California silver-era divorce, all the assets are far more likely to fall under marital property.

In other words, in a silver-era divorce, all of your assets are far more likely to be community property (marital), which is described as any assets acquired during the marriage. This includes:

Due to the emotional attachment, many spouses want to keep the marital home post-divorce. This is where you raised a family, and you can't imagine moving out. Others want to get away with a fresh start in life.

However, even if the mortgage is paid in full, you must consider the cost of keeping up a large home and the annual property taxes. Handling these expenses on your own could be overwhelming.

Like a traditional divorce, all marital property will need to be distributed equally between you and your spouse upon divorce. The primary difference is the likelihood that you will have a considerable amount of assets, which makes the silver-era divorce process more complex.

What About Alimony is a Silver-Era Divorce?

A silver-era divorce is also more likely to involve spousal support, known as “alimony.” The primary purpose of alimony is to deal with divorce-related financial inequalities.

Alimony is a Silver-Era Divorce
Courts will likely grant alimony in a silver-era divorce.

In other words, to give one spouse, typically the wife, the financial support they need to become financially independent. Again, as noted, unique in a silver-era divorce, the wife's age typically excludes them from pursuing career employment.

This means the chances of the wife needing ongoing long-term alimony are much more likely than temporary spousal support, which is common in a traditional divorce.

In California, one of the primary factors determining the amount and duration of alimony is the years the couple was married. Thus, with a silver-era divorce, this factor usually results in a significant amount being ordered by the family court judge.

Also, since the wife is far less likely to pursue a new career, the duration of the alimony usually is much longer. It would help if you worked closely with a divorce lawyer to protect your legal right to a fair amount of spousal support.

What About Financial-Related Issues?

Another unique factor in a silver-era divorce is that older couples are far more likely to have one spouse, typically the husband, deal with all the financial-related issues. At the same time, the wife handled the full-time job of raising the children.

This means the wife will not be familiar with the household finances and could be quickly taken advantage of in a divorce. If this describes your situation, you need to start gathering certain documents, such as the following:

  • W-2 wage statements,
  • Tax record filings,
  • Checking and savings account statements,
  • Pension and retirement account statements,
  • Stocks and bonds,
  • Deed to the marital home or other properties,
  • Vehicle, recreational vehicle, and boat titles,
  • Information about expensive jewelry or art,
  • Information on any expensive collections or hobbies,
  • Information about your spouse's professional practice.

Many high-net-worth divorces will require the expert services of a forensic accountant and professional business valuation expert. They can help protect your financial rights throughout the California divorce process.

What Are Some Other Divorce Considerations?

If you fall under the silver-era divorce category, there are some other factors you need to consider.  First is cost and expenses. Keeping the marital home might be very important, but you could be forced to maintain it with one income.

Considerations in a Silver-Era Divorce in California
Contact our family law lawyers for help.

Your financial status is likely to change, and you will need time to adjust to the new standard of living. You are taking on a substantial financial commitment that requires planning and resources.

If you were much less involved in your marital and financial issues than your spouse, you would have to make a significant adjustment that will take time. For example, the tax implications of your divorce can have a substantial financial impact.

Also, retirement accounts can be crucial to your financial future, and you need to understand what assets you are legally entitled to in a divorce settlement agreement.

Our experienced divorce lawyers can help you get through a senior citizen divorce. As noted above, these are more complicated, and you will need legal representation from someone with the knowledge and skill to obtain a favorable resolution through negotiation. Your future is at stake.

The California divorce and family law lawyers at Furman & Zavatsky are based in Los Angeles County and we provide legal representation across the state. Our law firm offers a free case consultation via phone or contact form.

About the Author

Lee Zavatsky

Lee Zavatsky is a partner at Furman & Zavatsky, a law firm dedicated to the practice of Family Law. Mr. Zavatsky has been selected as one of the Top 40 Under 40 by The National Trial Lawyers, a professional organization composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the...

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