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Gray Divorce: What to Consider When You’re Divorcing Later in Life

May 24, 2021

By: Crystal Espinosa Buit

By now, you’ve undoubtedly heard that Bill and Melinda Gates have chosen to end their 27-year marriage, joining the increasing number of long-married couples opting to divorce. A recent THINK article about the growing trend of divorce “in the second half of life”—or what researchers are calling “gray divorce”—discusses some of the potential reasons that more divorces among those aged 50 and older may be occurring, including broader cultural changes and expectations.

For couples facing a “gray divorce,” especially those in long-term marriages (more than 17 years) or where there is no prenuptial agreement, the spouses will probably need to take several complex issues into consideration, including:

  1. Division of assets
    Couples who have been married for many years have often built a substantial and complicated marital estate. All the assets accumulated during the marriage will now have to be untangled. Identifying marital versus non-marital assets can be especially difficult for couples married a long time. Further, a decision will have to be made about what to do with the marital home, and any businesses that were created and cultivated during the marriage may require valuation. The distribution of retirement benefits, including pensions, will also need to be determined.
     
  2. Alimony (spousal support)
    Depending on a spouse's need and the other spouse's ability to pay, permanent alimony or durational alimony may need to be determined.  Additionally, rehabilitative alimony may be awarded to a spouse who desires to redevelop previous credentials or acquire education or training necessary to gain employment.

  3. Children’s issues
    Since children in gray divorces are often older, child custody, visitation and support may be non-factors. However, depending on circumstances, there may still be the need for determination of timesharing with older children who may have their own opinions about where they want to spend their time, school selection, and the payment of various expenses for the benefit of the children.

  4. Additional issues
    When couples divorce after decades of marriage, there can be additional issues not often thought to be a part of a divorce, but which are very much affected, such as trusts, taxes and like matters.

Given the unique complications and potential financial consequences of gray divorce, it’s important to work with an attorney who can help you understand your rights and assist you in achieving a fair settlement.


This article is informational only. You should consult an attorney before acting or failing to act. The law may change rapidly and no warranty is given. LOWNDES DISCLAIMS ALL IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. ALL ARTICLES ARE PROVIDED AS IS AND WITH ALL FAULTS. Consult a Lowndes attorney if you wish to establish an attorney/client relationship.
Crystal
Crystal Espinosa Buit devotes her practice to providing skilled and supportive legal representation for clients going through complicated and often highly emotional family law matters, including divorce, child support, child custody, alimony and family law litigation. She also has significant experience negotiating and drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for couples seeking financial protection and peace of mind. Her clients include high-net-worth individuals, business executives, doctors, lawyers, professional athletes and other prominent professionals, as well as the spouses of such individuals. 
 
A strong and compassionate advocate, Crystal knows every family is unique and no two cases are the same. She works tirelessly to find creative solutions that minimize conflict and suit each client’s best interests and individual needs. A wife and mother of two, Crystal also understands the difficult decisions her clients face, and she works closely with them to keep them informed and supported as they navigate uncharted territory and make important choices for themselves and their children.  
 
With her training and experience in collaborative family law, Crystal believes that most couples and families can benefit from avoiding lengthy courtroom battles by resolving conflicts regarding issues like shared parenting time, child and spousal support, and property division through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law. When litigation cannot be avoided, she and the firm’s other family law attorneys will zealously represent you and your interests in the courtroom.   
 
An Orlando native, Crystal is an ardent supporter of her undergraduate alma mater, the University of Central Florida. She currently serves on its Alumni Association Board of Directors and was honored with the UCF Jefferson Award for Constituent Chapter Volunteer of the Year in recognition of her generosity and service to the university. Previously recognized by Florida Super Lawyers as a “Florida Rising Star,” Crystal graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While in law school, she was a member of the Florida Law Review and earned five Books Awards, including Interviewing & Counseling; Negotiation; and Family and Public Policy. 
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