Grey Divorce: The Next Big Baby Boomer Trend?

Baby boomers have been at the forefront of many social, economic, and cultural movements throughout the past few decades. Always a generation to embrace change, those 50+ are now leading the pack when it comes to divorce trends.

The Stats Don’t Lie

According to a 2013 study conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), a reported 61% of divorce lawyers have seen an increase in the number of new cases involving baby boomers. The attorneys who participated in the AAML survey estimated that about a quarter of all grey divorce cases were initiated by women, and only about 14% of filings were started by husbands.

Baby boomers are paving the way for complicated divorces later in life. If the growing trend continues on it current path, matrimonial lawyers will continue to see an increase in grey divorce cases well into the next decade or two.

Why are Baby Boomers Getting Divorced?

Just as with any divorce, the reasons for filing will vary on a case by case basis. However, there are a handful of common reasons as to why boomers are divorcing at an exponential rate:

1. Divorce is more easily obtainable. Thanks to New York’s no-fault divorce law, obtaining a final judgement of divorce has never been easier or faster.

2. Empty Nesters. Many older couples come to the realization that they only stayed together because they thought it would be in their children’s best interest. Once the kids have flown the coup, empty nesters realize that they no longer have a reason to remain together.

3. Growing Apart. Self-reflection is often associated with growing older, and upon evaluating their lives, baby boomers may realize they have grown apart from their spouse and are no longer in love. Instead of staying married to their partner, boomers decide to divorce and focus on their personal growth and happiness.

4. Infidelity. Unfortunately, infidelity sometimes plays a role in grey divorce. After being married to the same person for 20 or 30 years, interests in their spouse may wain and an extramarital affair may occur. Adultery is often cited in many divorces, regardless of the age of the parties.

Are Grey Divorces Easier?

The complexity of any legal action will depend on many factors that are specific to each individual case. Grey divorces are no exception, and can either be contested or uncontested. There are pros and cons to proceeding with divorce later in life. Adult children usually cope better with the news of their parent’s impeding divorce, but boomers need to be sensitive of their children’s feelings. While there is less of a chance of child custody and support disputes in grey divorces, older couples have to spend extra time addressing assets, alimony, and retirement funds.

Alimony, Retirement, and Grey Divorce

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is almost always awarded to one party during a divorce action. The amount of support, and the amount of time a judge orders it to be given, varies depending on the length of the marriage, and how much money each spouse made throughout the course of the union. In long-term marriages that last a few decades, baby boomers may be expected to pay their ex a larger amount of support over a longer period of time. In some instances, support can be paid (or received) for the rest of a person’s life.

Retirement and pension benefits will need to be addressed and divided during a New York divorce. Typically, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will be completed prior to finalizing any agreements regarding retirement accounts. In most cases, a judge will order each party to list their former spouse as a beneficiary on their individual IRA or 401(k) accounts. Exactly how a retirement account is addressed during divorce depends on the type of account it is. For instance, if a party used income earned during the marriage (which is considered to be marital funds) to contribute to their IRA, then their spouse is entitled to half of the account’s value.

Since the terms and conditions of alimony and pension issues in grey divorce actions are case specific, the only way to get a thorough understanding of what to expect is to speak with an attorney. He or she will be able to advocate on your behalf for a fair agreement.

Equitable Distribution Complications

New Yorkers who divorce later in life have a much longer period of time to accumulate marital property, which can be broken down into tangible and intangible assets. All marital assets are subject to a process called equitable distribution. This means that all major assets, such as homes, cars, financial accounts, jewelry, and art and collectibles, are examined and a value is placed upon them. A common misconception about equitable distribution is that all assets are divided in half evenly, however, this is not the case. Sometimes one party will relinquish their ownership in the marital residence, in exchange for not having to pay their ex as much spousal support.

Baby boomers going through grey divorce will have to endure a prolonged discovery and distribution process since they tend to have an increased number of joint assets. To help expedite the process, it is recommended that litigants have access to property deeds, financial and mortgage statements, and retirement account documents. Using a financial checklist to help keep track of documents is helpful.

NYC’s Grey Divorce Advocates

The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. understand the complexity of grey divorces. These unique cases often require a detail oriented and aggressive litigator who is capable of reaching a fair and beneficial settlement for their client. With over 50 years of combined experience, Brian and his team of associate attorneys have a thorough knowledge of New York State law, and apply their expertise to each case. For more information, or to schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact NYC’s leading divorce law firm today!

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