It is no secret that the divorce rate in the United States has risen over the last few years. What is surprising to some, however, is that the divorce rate is not only increasing among young couples, but is increasing also among long-term marriages.
What Is "Gray Divorce?"
The number of divorces for those over 50 years old has doubled in the last 25 years. These divorces, sometimes called “grey divorce” or “silver divorce” have important considerations and often additional complications compared to those experienced by younger people facing divorce, who have typically been married a much shorter amount of time.
First, in a silver divorce, it is common that the parties have been married for 20 – 30 years. This is significant when thinking about an award of alimony, which is called spousal maintenance in Minnesota.
There are many factors that go into an award of spousal maintenance, and the duration of the marriage is one of those factors. In general, the longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the judge will award spousal maintenance to an economically disadvantaged spouse. Moreover, a long marriage makes it more likely that the economically disadvantaged spouse will receive an award of spousal maintenance that lasts for years or even until the requesting spouse dies or remarries.
Another important consideration is investment or retirement accounts.
Minnesota is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property will be distributed equitably between the parties. Most property acquired during the marriage will be deemed to be marital property, and this includes retirement and pension accounts.
The value of the accounts that accrued during the marriage will be subject to division. If the parties have been married for a long time, this could be a significant asset. Some retirement accounts are simple to value (such as a 401(k)), but others may require the advice of a financial expert, as is often the case with a pension that has not yet vested.
Third, with a silver divorce, it is not uncommon that one or both of the spouses has received an inheritance from their parents during the marriage.
Property received through inheritance is one of the exceptions to the general rule that property received during the marriage is marital property. Inheritance is separate property and not generally subject to division during the divorce, but this can change depending on how the parties handled the inheritance.