Recently, one of our younger lawyers asked me about a request from a prospective client for a “silver divorce” because the lawyer wasn’t sure what it was. Since I’m a little older myself, I know terms like silver sneakers, silver singles and of course gray or silver divorces.
If you didn’t guess, silver or gray refers to those of us at an age when our hair color has faded to the grayer hues (for those who still have hair to see). Gray (or silver) divorce is therefore a term that is sometimes used to refer to a late-life divorce.
Because of the stage of life we typically find ourselves in, gray divorces are usually less about parenting plans and child support and more about the sharing of accumulated wealth and long-term financial planning. Typically, a gray couple divorced is either about to retire or is already retired. The lack of a labor income to look forward to after a certain point shows the importance of making the most of what the couple has.
Is a silver divorce more complicated than a regular divorce?
Even if a married couple has carefully planned retirement, divorce can get the best of plans under control, as it often comes with increasing costs. The divorced couple will need two houses instead of one, with all the associated costs. Doing this at a time when income may be falling is a double blow.
A common problem is social security. Social security benefits are not divisible in the event of a divorce. In other words, we cannot require the government to send any part of a person’s benefits to their ex-spouse. It may be possible to require a former spouse with a higher benefit to pay the other a certain amount of spousal allowance. However, this can be more difficult to enforce if the person paying refuses to pay.
Note, on the other hand, that in many cases an individual may be entitled to their own social security benefits based on their spouse’s (or ex-spouse’s) work experience (up to half the amount that the working spouse qualifies for). This means that a person who did not work during the marriage may still be able to receive social security benefits. If the person is entitled to some benefits based on their own work experience but could qualify for additional benefits based on the spouse’s work experience, they will receive the higher amount.
And to be very clear, if a person qualifies for a benefit upgrade based on a former spouse’s work experience, it does not reduce the amount of benefits the former spouse receives. It’s a completely separate benefit.
Working with a financial planner during a gray divorce can be very helpful in creating a sustainable plan for the future and reducing anxiety about the future. When we deal with gray divorces together, both spouses usually work with a joint finance specialist to ensure they come up with a plan that works best for both of them.
Seattle Divorce Services is here to manage your gray divorce
For more information on gray divorce, please visit our website titled Divorce Late In Life.
If you need to discuss an upcoming divorce with one of our lawyers, just give us a call at 206-783-2215 or request an appointment using our contact form.