Gray Divorce

June 9th, 2020

By Jennifer McMenomy

There is a growing trend in the United States wherein couples above the age of fifty years of age are divorcing.  Over a decade of data suggests that “gray divorce”, or the divorce of people mature in their age and/or marriage, is on the rise.  The increasing frequency of gray divorce has become somewhat of a public concern for sociologists, who attribute the rise in gray divorce to people living longer and the fact that many families are now dual income, allowing spouses to be financially independent from one another.  If you are contemplating a divorce from a partner to whom you have been married for several years, there are certain issues to keep in mind when entering into the process:

Pre-and Post-Nuptial Agreements: A prenuptial agreement is an agreement made by a couple before entering into marriage to characterize ownership and title of respective assets.  A postnuptial agreement is the same type of agreement that occurs sometime during the marriage.  In Nevada, so long as such an agreement follows certain requirements, that agreement will control the dissolution of the marriage and determine which party receives an asset.  It is important to provide a copy any such agreement to your attorney at the outset of the divorce to ease the process.

Assets and Finances: As previously discussed, a gray divorce will likely include parties that have been married for many years and will most likely have jointly held assets and commingled finances.  The unwinding and recharacterization of these assets may take longer to accomplish.  It is important to note that Nevada is a community property state and as such, divorce courts seek to accomplish an equitable division of all marital property in a fifty-fifty split.  If the parties’ assets are substantial, it may become necessary to employ an accountant to properly classify all property.

Retirement: As with other assets, retirement funds and pensions are considered community property in a divorce.  A divorce attorney should take great care in handling the division of retirement assets to ensure that retirement savings are not depleted early and that individuals are set up for retirement.

Social Security Benefits: Receiving Social Security benefits may become more complicated when going through a divorce at an advanced age.  Generally, benefits are based upon an individual’s income.  It is important to understand what your status for receiving benefits will be post-divorce.

Estate Planning: Generally, couples that have been married for several years would have executed an estate plan together.  After the dissolution of a marriage, the character of assets that were once considered marital property—such as the family home will change in ownership.  As such, it is important to update any estate planning documents that may have been executed during the marriage to ensure that no legal trouble arises upon the death of either party.

Settlement: If you and your partner are amicable and wish to resolve the divorce in a cooperative manner, it is important that you sit down with your partner to determine whether you can work out an agreement as to the character of assets prior to proceeding with a complicated divorce process.

Divorce is a complicated and emotional process. The attorneys at Allison MacKenzie are dedicated to providing our clients with personalized service and can assist you in navigating the complex legal landscape of obtaining a divorce. For any questions regarding divorce, please contact Allison MacKenzie at 775.687.0202.