Spouses who divorce at any age must deal with many challenges including the division of their assets and debts. But couples who divorce after a lengthy marriage, known as gray divorce, face unique property division issues because they obtained more assets and have more complicated finances.
Having financial stability is your major goal in a gray divorce. A well thought out plan can help you achieve this and help you in settlement negotiations.
Planning the division of assets is the first step. Begin by preparing an inventory of all separate and jointly owned assets such as bank accounts, investments, retirement plans, pensions, real estate, and insurance policies. You should also inventory outstanding debts including mortgages, home equity credit lines, loans, and credit card debt.
You need to find and keep important documents such as prenuptial agreements, tax returns and estate documents such as wills, trusts, and powers of attorneys. Appraise antiques, vehicles, art, jewelry, and other tangible assets. When compiling this information, determine the property’s owner because separately owned property such as an inheritance or family gift may not be qualified for property division.
You can take additional precautions in a contentious divorce such as searching for property that your spouse may be hiding. Filing for legal separation will put a hold on assets so your spouse cannot withdraw money from accounts or change beneficiaries until there is a settlement.
After inventory, you need to consider your long-term plans and expenses to prepare for settlement negotiations. Determine whether there will be any immediate and substantial lifestyle changes which will require you to use your own savings. If so, build an emergency fund to cover at least one year of living expenses.
Also, spouses in this age group may have significant retirement investment among multiple accounts. Retirement assets held by one spouse must be shared in a divorce. There are specific rules governing allocating retirement assets which differ for 401(k)s and pensions, traditional and Roth IRAs and other annuities.
If you are still supporting your children, especially with college loans or other debt, you may need to include these costs in your plans and settlement. Many couples may also want to assist their grandchildren and help with their education.
An attorney can help you meet your post-divorce needs. They can seek a fair and reasonable property division.