It is common for people to make jokes about how many older people live in Florida. Since the state is a common destination for retirees, the harmless joking is based on some level of reality. Some of these older couples are in marriages that do not work out. While there will be issues in any divorce, a so-called “gray” divorce has unique concerns that should be factored in.

There has been a dramatic increase in gray divorce in the last 30 years. This is happening while people in different age demographics have gotten fewer divorces. People 65 and older have had three times the number of divorces when compared to other age groups. Many of these divorces are financially motivated. As people age and their goals and desires out of life change, disputes over money rise in frequency. In addition, people are living longer and in better health than they were in the past. They might think about money in a different way because of that. Combining this with an unhappy marriage sparks divorce.

Certain financial factors come to the forefront. The home can be of significant value. This could be sold with the proceeds being shared, or one might want to buy the other out and retain it. If the couple prepared financially for a retirement together and suddenly divorces, the 401(k), IRA, pensions and other retirement accounts might be split. Living separately can be costlier and the parties could be forced to work longer or return to work if they have already retired.

One spouse may need to pay support to the other spouse. Since getting a job might be harder for a person who was a stay-at-home spouse and parent or did not have marketable education and skills, the support could be for a longer time-period than it would be for younger couples. If the marriage was for 10 years or longer, a person can receive a portion of the other’s Social Security benefits. They must be unmarried; be at least 62-years-old; have a spouse who is getting retirement or disability from Social Security; and the benefits based on their work is less than they would receive based on the spouse’s work.

A gray divorce will have challenges people might not anticipate. To address these potential consequences and to be fully protected under the law, it is wise to have legal advice. A law firm experienced in the financial and personal implications from a gray divorce may be able to help. Calling for a consultation before moving forward is a wise step.