Our Irvine Divorce Law Firm is Highly Experienced in Divorce Among Baby Boomers and Retirees

Most consider divorce to be an issue dealt with primarily by young and middle-aged couples, but divorcing late in life (colloquially known as “gray divorce”) is becoming increasingly common. According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for individuals 50 and older has roughly doubled over the past 25 years, from 5% in 1990 to 10% in 2015. While this is still far below the 24% rate for those aged 25-39, it means that more Baby Boomers are now going through the divorce process. And for older individuals, divorce has special challenges, as explained by an Orange County divorce attorney below. 

Division of Property 

California is a community property state, meaning that any property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is considered to belong to both spouses and must be distributed equally upon divorce. Couples who have been married for longer are likely to have more community property and less separate property. All of these assets — including the couple’s home — must be divided equally. In most cases, the spouse who receives the home in the divorce must give up something (such as alimony or a share of retirement accounts) in return. 

Spousal Support in Long-Term Marriages

When awarding spousal support, the divorce court must consider what each spouse can earn to maintain their standard of living after the divorce. One of the most important considerations when awarding spousal support is the length of the marriage. In California, courts are more likely to award spousal support in long-term marriages (10+ years) and, in some cases, may not set an end date for the support order. 

Dividing Retirement Benefit 

Interest or income derived from retirement plans, including 401(k)s, pensions, military pensions, and profit sharing plans, are considered community property and subject to division upon divorce. In many cases retirement assets are among the most valuable of the community property assets. However, for older individuals, the division of retirement assets can result in a diminished retirement.

Social Security is Not Automatically Divisible in California

Social Social benefits are not divisible upon divorce; however, one spouse may be able to receive benefits based upon their former spouse’s earnings record if: 

  • The marriage lasted 10 years or longer
  • The claimant must be at least 62 years old
  • The claimant has remained unmarried after divorce
  • The claimant’s former spouse must be entitled to receive Social Security retirement or disability benefits
  • The Social Security benefits the claimant is entitled to are less than what their former spouse is entitled to 

Once the couple has been divorced for two years, the claimant will be entitled to benefits through their ex-spouse, even if he or she is eligible for benefits but is not collecting them.

Contact an Orange County Divorce Attorney at Our Irvine Office

If you are considering a divorce later in life, you should contact an experienced attorney who can help you tackle the unique challenges inherent in gray divorces. To get started, please contact an Orange County divorce attorney at Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy by using our online form or calling us at 949-474-0800.