In Arizona as well as other parts of the country, an increasing number of baby boomers are divorcing. In fact, one in four of those divorcing are 50 years old or older. Dubbed a “gray divorce,” According to one researcher, Americans in this age range are twice as likely to divorce as they were 20 years ago. Back in 1990, only 1 in 10 persons who got divorced was age 50 or older.
Reasons for this new phenomenon may include the increasing number of women achieving financial independence and new empty nesters realizing they do not share common interests or goals. While much more prevalent than in years past, divorcing later in life can lend itself to unique complexities.
For example, part of the divorce process for couples of any age includes dividing property. Property interests can take the form of assets such as homes, retirement and pension accounts, vehicles and even business ownership interests. Those over 50 tend to have more property then their younger counterparts, possibly making the division process longer, more intricate or particularly cumbersome. In community property states such as Arizona, assets acquired during a marriage is typically divided equally, as opposed to other states where a judge determines which spouse receives which property equitably.
Other examples of community property that may be divided equally include the salary earned by either spouse, additional sources of income and even tangible items such as furniture. However, bank accounts and gifts owned by either spouse before the marriage may be considered separate property and not subject to division. Determining what is community property and what is separate property can be difficult, particularly for those who have a significant amount of assets. In these cases, working with a family law attorney experienced in property division is especially important.
Source: NPR.org, “Older Americans’ Breakups Are Causing A ‘Graying’ Divorce Trend,” Ina Jaffe, Feb. 24, 2014