No matter what your age or income, a divorce often has a major financial impact. However, reports indicate that saving for retirement after a gray divorce (50 or older) can be very difficult, because each spouse may now be living independently with additional expenses.

Gray divorce often involve complex issues that make reaching an appropriate arrangement more challenging. Ensuring an equitable settlement, spousal support and division of property is of critical importance.

The financial facts

Spouses who divorce after 50 are often left with little time to rebuild their retirement savings. Social scientists note that the risk of entering into poverty is also higher among spouses who divorce after age 62. Two statistic to illustrate this point:

  • 4 percent of married couples 62 or older live at or below the poverty line.
  • 14 percent of divorced men and 30 percent of women in this age group live in poverty.

Property Division

Older couples generally have accumulated more property than younger ones and properly valuing and dividing retirement accounts, such as those listed below can prove difficult:

  • IRAs
  • 401(k)s
  • Pension plans
  • Stock options

According to The New York Times, many divorcing spouses do not pursue all of the property they are due. This, many believe, is the caused by feelings of guilt, stress or sadness. As a result, some spouses do not consider the full financial impact a divorce may have on their lives going forward. Many wish to avoid conflict and the hard feelings that may occur when fighting over property. However, they risk forfeiting assets they can afford to lose — ones they are entitled to in the course of a fair division of property.

Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance

Alimony is simply the monetary support to the more financially needy spouse. A bill signed by former Gov. Deval Patrick, The Alimony Reform Act of 2011,  provided some major provisions that especially effect Gray Divorce.

These include:

  • Significant limits on lifetime award.s
  • Specific caps on award terms related to marriage lengths and other relevant factors.
  • New alimony types for short-term marriages.
  • Termination of most alimony arrangements when the payor reaches retirement age (as defined by federal Social Security law) and cohabitation provisions.

Judges and Massachusetts Family Law

Family law judges in the state of Massachusetts have a large degree of discretion in dividing property equitably between divorcing parties. A judge may consider the following:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Financial resources
  • Employability
  • Financial need

A judge may also award alimony payments to the economically disadvantaged spouse (the one earning less income or with less resources). It is important to understand that the way each spouse presents their assets, needs, and situation impacts in a judges decision.

If you are preparing for a gray divorce in Massachusetts, you should consider consulting with an attorney to help you reach a settlement that protects your rights and long-term interests.

To find out more, call Attorney Kerri Quintal at 508-695-0285