Things to Consider in a Gray Divorce

Things to Consider in a Gray Divorce

Things to Consider in a Gray Divorce

by Van Den Heuvel Law Office

There is never a good time to get divorced, but there are certain factors that make a gray divorce even more difficult. A gray divorce is when a marriage breaks up after the couple has been together for a very long time. Usually, each spouse is also older, and may even be facing retirement, or they are already there. Gray divorces are typically devastating because the couple has been together so long and both believed they had built a strong foundation together. Gray divorces are also made more difficult by the factors listed below.

Concerns with the Marital Home

Just like it is never easy to get divorced, it is also never easy to have to leave the marital home. This is particularly true in the matter of gray divorces. A comfortable and familiar environment can sometimes make even the most difficult situations easier to face. Yet, one spouse often has to leave the home after a divorce, making the process even more difficult. It is not entirely easy on the spouse who gets to keep the home, either. Paying for a mortgage, property taxes, and regular maintenance can become much more difficult for one spouse to do after divorce.

Social Security

It is not uncommon for people going through a gray divorce to also collect Social Security benefits at the same time. Legally, Social Security benefits cannot be part of property division proceedings during a divorce. However, there are still ramifications of divorcing when one spouse is receiving these benefits. When a couple has been married longer than 10 years and both spouses are over the age of 62, a spouse may still collect a portion of benefits from their ex-spouse. That means the paying spouse has fewer benefits, but the receiving spouse must also claim those benefits as income.

Retirement Funds

Although only one spouse may contribute to a retirement fund, it is still likely considered marital property during a divorce. This is because income contributes to an IRA or a 401K, and income is considered marital property when it was earned after the wedding. As such, retirement funds must be calculated to determine how much was earned after the marriage, and that amount must be divided equally and fairly between the couple. When this happens, often the amounts each spouse leaves with are inadequate to fully cover their retirement needs.


A spouse is more likely to be awarded alimony as part of divorce proceedings if the couple was married for a long time, which is typical in gray divorces. This is particularly true if one spouse will continue to earn an income after divorce, and the other will not, at least for a period of time. It is important each spouse understands this, so they know what they are entitled to, or what they may be required to pay.

Our Michigan Divorce Lawyers can Help with Your Gray Divorce

If you are considering divorce after a long marriage, it is important that you speak to our Grand Rapids divorce lawyer. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we understand the specific issues associated with these divorces and can advise and help you through them all. Call us today or contact us online so we can get started on your case right away.



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