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Things to Consider About “Gray Divorce” and the Elderly

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The term “gray divorce” often conjures images of recently retired couples, or those nearing the age of retirement, making the decision to file for divorce in Orlando. In other words, couples in their 50s and early 60s splitting up with the help of a Florida divorce lawyer. For many of these couples, it is more difficult to recover financially given the strains that divorce can place on retirement accounts, especially when only one of the spouses was the primary earner. To be sure, we often hear about people who decide on a gray divorce to push back their date of retirement, deciding to work a bit longer in order to replenish an IRA, a 401(k), or another type of retirement account. When it comes to many of these couples, it seems possible—and even likely—that they have a couple more decades or more ahead of them. But what about gray divorces among elderly couples?

A recent article in The New York Times addresses the matter of divorce among octogenarians. Or, as the article inquires, what happens “when 80-year-old parents divorce”? We want to discuss some important considerations for divorce among the elderly, citing information from U.S. News & World Report and AARP.

Finances Likely Will Be Even Tighter 

Technically the term gray divorce is used to refer to anyone in their 50s or older who is getting divorced. In general, the term often describes those in the Baby Boomer generation. At the same time, it is important to consider issues that even older adults face—those who are part of the Silent Generation (those born between 1925 and 1945). In many cases, those older adults are the parents of the younger Boomers. While people who get divorced just before or just after the usual age of retirement can have financial difficulties in the years following their divorce, this effect is particularly amplified for much older adults.

Adults who get divorced when they are in their later 70s and into their 80s can be significantly impacted by a division of marital assets. Given that we need more medical care as we age, and that the older we get, the more likely we are to need long-term care, a divorce can drastically reduce an elderly person’s ability to pay for such care. At the same time, however, some much older adults who get divorced in their 70s or 80s may already have spent down a large portion of their retirement accounts and actually could end up being less affected financially by a divorce than someone in their 50s, for example. If you are considering divorce at any age, it is important to think through your options with the help of an experienced divorce attorney.

Spouses as Caregivers 

As we age, we are more likely to need long-term care, as mentioned above. Many older adults assume that their spouse will be the person to provide this kind of in-home care. While anyone who is initiating a gray divorce may be thinking about this question, it is likely much more present for octogenarians. Losing a spouse to divorce may mean that there is a greater and more immediate need for financial support for long-term care, either at home or in a nursing facility.

Estate Planning and Gray Divorce 

Anyone considering a divorce—at any age—should be making plans to revisit their estate planning documents. To be sure, nobody can predict the future with any certainty. Yet making changes to estate planning documents may be a more pressing and immediate concern for octogenarians who are getting divorced.

Seek Advice from an Orlando Divorce Attorney 

Divorce is difficult and complicated at any age, but it can be particularly complex for older adults planning a gray divorce. If you have questions, an Orlando divorce lawyer can help. Contact Anderson & Ferrin today for more information.

Resources:

health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2018-09-13/senior-divorce-now-what

nytimes.com/2020/02/13/opinion/parents-divorce.html

aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-12-2010/late-life-divorce-and-your-money.html

https://www.vandersonlaw.com/reassessing-gray-divorce-in-2020/

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