BGD Partner James Reed Discusses Gray Divorces and the Unique Legal Nuances They Present
Partner James Reed discusses the rise in divorces among older couples and how this presents unique family law issues in a recent article for the Indiana Lawyer. This recent phenomenon called “gray divorces,” or divorces among couples who are 50 or older, presents unique legal nuances since couples have typically been together for several decades and typically have grown children involved in the matter. However, chief among those nuances are financial considerations, which can present unique challenges for spouses who are at or nearing retirement.
“When couples choose to divorce in their 30s or 40s, they still have time to recover financially, said Reed. “That’s because adults at that age have several years, if not decades, left in their careers. And even if one spouse did not have a career during the marriage, a decision to divorce in their 30s or 40s still gives that spouse time to acquire the training necessary to build a career for life on their own.” But when divorce occurs when a couple is in their 50s or later, careers may either be coming to a close or are completed, and spouses are often living on fixed incomes provided through Social Security or retirement benefits.
With other unique nuances that accompany a gray divorce, Reed does not think Indiana’s divorce laws are in sync with the new phenomenon. There is concern about the financial implications of gray divorce, “as the system tends to favor working spouses over non-working spouses. Though divorce proceedings are begun with a presumption of a 50-50 split of assets, the reality is often closer to 60-40, leaving the non-working spouse with the burden of finding financial resources that will enable them to build a life on their own,” Reed said.
“That doesn’t even slightly compensate for the inability to share in the future income of your spouse,” said Reed. “It’s a no-win for the one side and a complete win for the other side.”