Property Division in a Gray Divorce

For separating couples over the age of 50, a “gray divorce” brings with it issues not typically faced by younger divorcing couples. One such issue is the division of property accumulated over decades of being together.

When it comes to property division in a gray divorce, just one mistake could cost an individual a significant portion of their hard-earned savings or assets—which is a major concern for older adults who have less time to earn income and make up for any losses.

Retirement Accounts

Retirement accounts such as pension plans, IRAs, and 401Ks are among the most valuable assets that you and your spouse may have together. In the state of Colorado, these accounts are often considered marital property and are therefore subject to equitable distribution based on the marital situation. For such accounts established before the marriage, any increase in value is deemed marital.

When you initially established a retirement account, you probably thought such funds would provide for you and your spouse in your retirement years. With a divorce, however, you may find yourself receiving less than you anticipated.

The division of retirement assets can add tension to an already difficult situation, particularly if one spouse has more retirement assets compared to the other. In such an event, a knowledgeable family law attorney may help file a court order that apportions the benefits that couples have earned through the retirement plan of an employer.

The Marital Home

In the state of Colorado, a house is classified as marital property if it was placed in a joint title or if it was acquired during the course of the marriage. The best thing for a divorcing couple to do is to discuss among themselves whether one spouse should keep the marital home or sell the home and equitably distribute the profits. If the couple cannot agree on a course of action to take, then things may become much more difficult.

Divorcing couples must take several factors into consideration, such as the cost of property taxes and repairs of the marital home, and the cost of financing and maintaining separate residences.

If you and your spouse are unable to decide on who keeps the marital home, the court will make such a determination instead. The court may order the couple to sell the home, or may order the spouse remaining in the home to give the other spouse a share of the equity.

Spousal Maintenance

When it comes to spousal maintenance, the spouse with the higher income often has to pay the lower-earning spouse a monthly amount of money for a specific period of time. Colorado laws specify a formula for calculating spousal maintenance based on factors such as the combined gross incomes of the spouses and the duration of the marriage. Unfortunately, dividing fixed sources of income may leave seniors unable to support their previous lifestyles.

When maintenance is appropriate, other considerations arise, such as when maintenance should terminate.

Social Security

Though not divided as assets, Social Security benefits are relevant to a couples’ income after the divorce. If an individual is over 62 years of age and his or her marriage lasted at least 10 years, then he or she may be entitled to receive benefits based on a former spouse’s Social Security record—even after the divorce. Note that there are other factors used to determine eligibility.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to any property that either spouse owned prior to getting married. This may take the form of a personal gift, an inheritance, or even compensation from a personal injury lawsuit for future pain and suffering.

If you wish to keep this property separate or if your spouse believes that he or she deserves a share of this property, it is best to speak with your family law attorney as soon as possible.

Contact an Attorney Today

If you are over 50 years of age and are considering getting a divorce, it is important that you obtain an equitable share of your marital property. Consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process, and see to it that your rights and best interests are protected.