Grey Divorce: What Is It and How Do You Navigate It?

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Grey divorce refers to the societal phenomenon of couples divorcing after mid-life. Although overall divorce rates are currently steady, if not decreasing, divorce among the population greater than 50 years of age continues to increase year over year.

In 2004, the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) released a groundbreaking study on divorce titled The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond. The study took a deep dive into the circumstances and impacts on men and women divorcing as midlifers and older adults.

In the subsequent years, more research, including the tracking of rates and trends, has been conducted by government agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control. Of the various age groups tracked, those aged 55-64 are far outpacing any other group in terms of overall divorce rate. This age group has seen its rate triple since the data was first tracked in the late 1990s. This phenomenon has coined several nicknames such as “silver splits” and “diamond divorces” but it is most commonly referred to as grey divorce.

Divorce among this population requires a careful analysis of the facts and circumstances at hand as the individuals involved are either at, or have just completed, their highest-earning years, and are on the path toward retirement — meaning whatever monies are distributed, are not likely to be easily replaced. Grey divorces often require in-depth consideration of factors surrounding the liquidity and tax implications of investment and retirement accounts, the valuation of business interests, and tangible property such as jewelry, fine art, and car collections. Securing income streams to guarantee a comfortable retirement is also of utmost importance.

The process also doesn’t end upon the issuance of the divorce decree. Careful attention to detail must be paid on the back end of the divorce process such as: ensuring accuracy and updating of estate planning documentation, designation of retirement and life insurance beneficiaries, and the finalization through transference and assignment of financial accounts.

Most importantly, a client needs a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney to navigate them through the uncertainty of divorce. For more information on grey divorce, or if you are interested in filing for or have been served with a divorce action, contact Michael Rovito at 610-840-0241 or MRovito@macelree.com to schedule a consultation.

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Michael C. Rovito is a partner in MacElree Harvey’s Family Law Practice and a member of the Litigation Group. His practice focuses on family law-specific areas of divorce, equitable distribution of property, alimony, marital agreements, child custody, and support.

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