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Special Challenges in Divorce for Parties Over 50

Divorce for people over 50 is on the rise. Sometimes called “gray divorce” or “silver divorce,” dissolution of marriage between two people over the age of 50 is not nearly as rare as it used to be. These types of divorces can present some special circumstances that aren’t usually at issue in a divorce of a younger couple.

Spousal support (referred to as spousal maintenance, and not alimony, in Washington) is the first and obvious thing that comes up in these types of divorces. While many silver divorces are people on their second marriage, this isn’t always true. So, if you and your spouse are on your first marriage and over 50, it’s likely that you have been married quite a long time. One of the things the court will consider when figuring out how much spousal support should be paid is the length of the marriage. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the judge will grant one of the parties a long-term award of spousal support—should the case proceed to trial.

Retirement is another major issue in these cases. By the age of 50 and beyond, you have been working most of your life to carefully build up your retirement, working hard to save up for your golden years. If you are divorcing a long-term spouse, then your retirement may be about to get cut in half. Washington divides marital property, including financial accounts like retirement, on an “equitable” basis. Equitable doesn’t always mean equal, but it often does. If your spouse doesn’t have a retirement account and you do, then you’ll probably be required to divide up your retirement. In the alternative, you could give your spouse a cash buy-out of the worth of half the account or agree to give your spouse more of the other marital assets to make up for his or her share of your retirement account.

One potentially good thing about a divorce over the age of 50 is that it’s likely that if you have children with your spouse, they are probably now grown up and out of the house. This means no custody battle and no child support. This can help cut down on the amount of time a divorce takes, since it takes out what is usually the main issue in many cases.

No matter what age you are, divorce is a difficult time. We have extensive experience with helping our clients through their divorce regardless of their stage of life. Call us today at (253) 272-9459 to talk about your divorce and how we can achieve your goals.

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