Divorcing After Your Children Have Grown Up

Family talking in the living room at home. Concept for Divorce Later in Life.

Divorce at any stage of life is difficult. But there can be certain challenges you might face if you are divorcing after your children have grown up. Whether you stayed in your marriage longer than you should have because you thought it was “better for the kids” or you and your spouse drifted apart during retirement, gray divorce is increasingly common. Although child custody and support won’t typically be issues that must be determined if you are ending a marriage later in life, there are some matters that can make a divorce more complex.

Property and Asset Division

One of the major issues in any divorce concerns property division. However, when you divorce later in life after a long marriage, there may be significantly more assets in your marital estate. This can make dividing marital property more difficult, contentious, and time-consuming. In a gray divorce, the following can present unique considerations when it comes to property division — and your financial security:

  • Retirement accounts — When you opened your retirement account, it was likely with the expectation that it would provide you and your spouse with the income you needed later in life. However, any assets that went into the account during the marriage would be subject to division in divorce, resulting in changes to your financial plans.
  • Business assets — If one or both spouses owns a business, and these assets are considered marital property, they will need to be divided in divorce. Critically, a spouse may have an ownership interest in a business that was started before the marriage if marital funds were contributed toward increasing its value.
  • The marital home — Sometimes, having a minor child can make it easier to determine what will happen to the marital home. But when you are divorcing after your children have grown up, there are different considerations. When dividing the marital home in a gray divorce, one spouse may consider buying out the other’s interest to remain in the home, or the couple may choose to sell the house and split the proceeds.
  • Investment accounts — Other assets that may be at issue when it comes to gray divorce are investment accounts. Many assets that may need to be divided after a long-term marriage can include bank accounts, stocks, pensions, and other investment accounts.

Importantly, if you or your spouse received an inheritance during your marriage, it will be considered separate property. Inheritances are not typically subject to division — unless it is converted to marital property. If the spouse who received the inheritance converts it into marital property by joint titling or commingling, it will be at issue in your divorce action.

Health Insurance Issues

A major consideration for those who divorce later in life is health insurance. If a spouse was covered by the other’s employer-sponsored plan, they will lose their insurance benefits once the divorce action has been finalized. This can be a significant issue if a spouse requires long-term care, an expensive medical procedure, or they are prescribed medication regularly. In such cases, a spouse will need to consider alternatives if they have not yet reached Medicare age — while health insurance can be costly, spouses should factor this into any settlement agreement they reach.

Determining Alimony in a Gray Divorce

When one spouse was financially dependent upon the other during the marriage, alimony may be awarded in divorce. Missouri judges may consider the spouse’s ages, health conditions, financial capacity, and the length of the marriage — among various other factors — when deciding whether an alimony award is appropriate. Notably, in a gray divorce, the spouse who supported the other during the marriage may end up paying alimony for the rest of their life.

The Emotional Impact of Divorce Later in Life

In addition to the economic impact of a divorce later in life, a gray divorce can be emotionally devastating. In some cases, it may be even more emotionally difficult than a divorce earlier in life. Concluding a relationship with a partner of many decades can result in loss of relationship with not only your spouse, but extended family members. It can also trigger a wide range of emotions, including sadness, grief, anxiety, anger, and even fear. While these feelings are a normal part of the divorce process, it’s important to seek the emotional support you need.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Divorce Attorney

If you are divorcing after your children have grown, there are a variety of unique challenges and considerations. It’s essential to have a knowledgeable attorney by your side who can advise you regarding your rights and help ensure you achieve a fair outcome. Divorce and family law attorney Mark A. Wortman provides compassionate counsel and reliable representation to clients in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area for divorce matters and a broad scope of family law issues. To schedule a confidential consultation to learn how he can assist you, please contact him today online or by calling (816) 523-6100.

Categories: Divorce