During a marriage, spouses spend a lot of time planning for their future and their retirement together. However, just as sometimes marriages will break down soon after the wedding or even ten years later, people approaching retirement age sometimes also find that they are facing divorce. The number of divorces for those over fifty years old has doubled in the last twenty-five years. These divorces, sometimes called “gray divorce” or “silver divorce” have important considerations and often additional complications compared to those experienced by younger people facing divorce, who have typically been married a much shorter amount of time.
Minnesota law requires a just and equitable distribution of marital assets and debts. This means that all marital property and marital debt will be divided equitably, but not necessarily equally. A court will decide how the marital estate will be distributed according to a list of factors found in the Minnesota statutes. When a couple has a long term marriage, there can be a large amount of marital property and sometimes marital debt to divide. The equity in the home can be extensive, as a couple may have been paying off their mortgage for many years by the time they are ready to file for divorce. A person approaching retirement will need to carefully consider whether he or she can afford to maintain the residence on one income.
Retirement accounts and pensions are also likely to be mostly marital property. Any value that accumulated to these accounts during the marriage will be considered marital property, even in the situation that a pension is not yet vested at the time of divorce. Valuation of savings accounts and 401(k)s are often relatively straight forward, but parties may need to employ an expert to determine the accurate value of pensions, stock options, or family businesses. After spending decades in a marriage, these assets are likely to have substantial value and should not be overlooked.
Spousal maintenance is also an essential component in many long-term marriages. Long term spousal maintenance is not often granted, but where parties have been married for decades, this type of maintenance may be appropriate. A court will look at many factors to determine the amount and length of any spousal maintenance award, but parties involved in a silver divorce are more likely to have a larger or longer spousal maintenance order than parties with a shorter marriage.
We have extensive experience with helping our clients to understand the special issues involved with silver divorce. Contact us today at 651-371-9117 for a consultation and we can talk about your divorce and your future.