Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC March 28, 2019

Over the past 25 years, the divorce rate for adults between the ages of 25 and 39 has gone down over 20 percent. However, Pew Research reports that the divorce rate for older adults, age 50 and up, has increased by nearly 110 percent. Called a “gray divorce,” it is important to note that older adults in Colorado who choose to end their marriages face different legal issues than younger couples.

For example, for couples under the age of 50 who still have minor children at home, child custody and child support are often the most important issues they face. However, gray divorcees may not have to worry about these issues, as their children are likely grown and have “flown the nest.” With no minor children living at home, there is no need to make child custody arrangements or pay child support.

However, property division and spousal support may take center stage for those going through a gray divorce. Couples who have been married for many years or even decades may have accumulated a significant amount of marital assets. Therefore, there is a lot on the table when it comes to property division. Specifically, older couples will want to ensure the division of retirement assets is fair, as it is likely they will soon be retired or may already be retired, leaving them with little time to accumulate retirement assets on their own.

In addition, spousal support — known as spousal maintenance in Colorado — is another important issue for older couples, especially if one spouse stayed out of the workforce while married to care for the family. Due to their age, these spouses may find it more difficult to find employment that allows them to support themselves independently. Both spouses will have to address the costs associated with living separately, including household finances, insurance payments and other living expenses. Spousal support can help put each spouse on even footing, so they are both enjoying a similar standard of living post-divorce.

A gray divorce may not look the same as a divorce between younger couples. However, when it comes down to it, no two divorces are the same. Issues that may be present in one divorce may not be present in another. Attorneys can assist couples address the issues that are important to them, so that each spouse can move forward, feeling satisfied with the outcome of their dissolution.