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What is gray divorce?

A relatively new term is becoming increasingly common these days: gray divorce. This term refers to couples who divorce in their later years, hence the term gray, as a play on the concept of gray hair that comes later in life. 

Many couples who embark on a gray divorce are separating after a long marriage together, generally 20 years or more. This can bring particular issues and complications to consider that couples in their younger years or in shorter marriages do not necessarily face. 

Gray divorce and retirement

Couples in their later years have generally amassed more assets and wealth than younger couples who choose to divorce. In addition, gray divorce couples may be close to retirement age or already living in retirement. This brings up concerns over how to divide wealth acquired during the marriage as well as issues regarding retirement funds.

One reason spouses, especially the nonbreadwinner spouses, may choose to stay in a long-term marriage that is no longer satisfactory, is due to concern over financial independence as a divorced person. The prospect of living on half, or less, of a married income level can seem very daunting. However, fear over financial matters should not be an impediment to leaving a marriage that is no longer working.

Gray divorce and property

Couples facing a gray divorce have often also acquired a significant amount of real estate and property during the marriage. The division of this property is a crucial concern as the divorce proceeds, as California is one of nine states considered a "community property" state. This has particular implications when it comes to divorce, as generally speaking the state law views property acquired during the marriage as joint property.

People who are facing a divorce after a decades-long marriage should seek the advice of an attorney who knows how to work with clients in this situation, as he or she will be better equipped to provide advice about the particular pitfalls and concerns common in these cases.

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