Divorcing at an Older Age in Florida: Understanding the Move to the “Grey Divorce”

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

1358390_sunset_over_a_lake.jpgFlorida has been known as a great place to retire. In a Florida divorce, however, there is also laws that indicate that anything accumulated during the marriage (with some exceptions) is marital and each spouse should get half of the marital property, assets and debts. Recently, Bowling Green State University conducted a study on the divorce rate amongst couples that are in their golden years. The study showed that for people over 50, the divorce rate has doubled over the last 20 years. According to the study, between 1990 and 2008, divorce amongst individuals over 50 has more than doubled.

The new trend has been referred to as, “the grey divorce,” and seems to only be increasing over the years. There are many reasons believed to be associated with this new phenomena, including the fact that individuals are healthier, look younger and have a different outlook on life in general than was the case in the earlier parts of the 20th century. Also, the fact that divorce no longer has the social stigma it once did has made divorcing seem more normal in the last twenty years than it had previously.

Regardless of the reason for the change, divorce issues arise the older the couple is and longer they have been married because normally the assets, property ownership, debts and the like are greater the longer the couple is married. There are other concerns as well, including health risks, health insurance, long-term care variables, etc. While the divorce may seem like a way out in order to enjoy the rest of ones life, the truth is that the process of divorcing may be more taxing than for those married a shorter period of time. However, one factor that is no longer an issue, generally in a “grey divorce” is that there really are not any custody or child support battles.

In a Florida divorce, the truth is that it comes down to the needs of parties, the financial situation of the parties, and their assets and debts. Dividing these things or establishing alimony may be a little different for an older couple than a younger one in that the needs of the parties are different. For example, depending on when the parties are divorcing, they may be living off retirement assets, social security income and the like. Therefore, determining how to divide incomes, retirement accounts and establishing alimony (if necessary) can become tricky.

The division of property is also a little different in that often times, couples have resided in their marital home for quite some time and no longer owe a mortgage. So, there is a question of dividing the actual equity in the home since there is no debt associated with it. The dividing of a marital home, for couples that have been married for some time, can be challenging in that they have ties not only to the home but also to the neighborhood. Therefore, what may normally be sold in a short-term marriage may become a factor in separating accounts between the parties instead of selling the home.

If you are thinking of divorcing, then you should speak with an experienced family law attorney in your area to better understand your rights and options. Understanding the process can make the divorce much less taxing than it would be otherwise. Also, it is important to properly divide your marital assets and debts so that you do not have additional court action in the future.