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  • Nancy Webb

Silver Divorce With A Chance to Start Over

A Silver Divorce (also known as a Grey Divorce) is the term referring to the rising divorce rate in the demographic known as the Baby Boomers, usually from long-term marriages. The term was coined as research reveals that the overall divorce rate is decreasing while the Silver Divorce crowd of 50+ divorce is rising. In fact, Silver Divorces currently make up a quarter of all divorces and 1 in 10 of that 25% is in 65+ category.

Why are so many Baby Boomers getting divorced?

  • Couples who are typically married for more than 20 years have simply grown apart and the stigma of divorce is not what it was for their parent’s generation. This is common after the couple becomes empty nesters and realizes that raising their children was what was keeping them together.

  • Longer life expectancies result in couples finding themselves in their 50’s and 60’s, unhappy with the realization that they most likely have 20 – 40 more years left to live. They want to do their own thing, refuse to be complacent, and want to find what makes them happy for their remaining years.

  • Some couples lose the spark while others say that who they were when they got married just isn’t who they are anymore.

What makes Silver Divorces Different?

  • The majority of Silver Divorces are retired or near retirement.

  • This demographic has grown children and is more likely to have grandchildren.

  • Due to the length of the marriages – divisions of assets are complicated.

  • This group is more likely to have stereotypical generational roles of the husband as the provider and the wife as the homemaker.

What Women Must Know About Spousal Retirement Benefits

Divorce is both emotionally and financially devastating – especially to women who are three times more likely to be below the poverty line in retirement. That is why it is important for women anticipating or in the process of a divorce to know what they may be entitled to their soon-to-be former spouse’s 401(k) and benefits. In most states, retirement plan assets earned during a marriage are considered to be marital property that can and should be divided. Not receiving your rightful share can make the difference between a secure retirement – or struggling to make ends meet.

Do your Homework

1. What retirement plan(s) does your spouse participate in?

2. What Benefits have been earned?

3. How much will be payable at retirement.

This information can be obtained by asking your spouse directly or by contacting the companies (preferably by writing or email) that your spouse worked for during the marriage. If the employer/plan does not respond to your request, the US Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration can assist with obtaining the information (call 1-866-444-3272 or submit your questions online.)

Now that you are armed with this knowledge, you and your lawyer can negotiate the division of marital property, including retirement benefits. Be sure to confirm that the divorce decree clearly lays out whether and how retirement benefits earned during the marriage will be split. If there is a pension, be certain the decree addresses whether survivor benefits will be awarded. This should happen before the divorce is finalized because it is almost impossible to make changes later.

In some cases (and States) a regular divorce decree is not enough to obtain the benefits awarded in the divorce. Once you have obtained a decree (or court-approved property settlement agreement) that spells out how the retirement benefits are to be divided, you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). QDRO’s can be included as part of the divorce decree but it is usually a separate document.

It is critical to submitting the QDRO to the plan for acceptance as soon as possible. If your spouse dies or remarries before the QDRO is submitted, your ability to get your share of the benefits could be put in jeopardy. This is also true if your spouse retires and withdraws funds.

QDROs are complex and it may be difficult to locate a lawyer who will draft the document. However, don’t give up as the security of your finances may depend upon it. The non-profit - Pension Rights – has a helpful guide for those going through a divorce.

You can get more information about Divorce and Retirement Benefits from the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement with topics such as:

What Are Your Spousal Rights When Your Spouse Owns a Business?

Figuring out what happens to a business during a divorce depends on the state you live in, its marital property rules, and the value of the company. No matter how long a couple is married or what their financial state is, a divorce requires all assets to be identified, valued, and divided. It is also important to note the best method to divide a business will not be the same for all couples, however, spousal support should be part of the negotiations. Since the courts view the business as an asset, in the end, it treats it as such.

What Do Courts Consider When Dividing a Business

After a business valuation has determined the value of a business, the court may consider a number of factors:

Whether the business existed before the marriage, and the percentage owned by each spouse.

  • How involved each spouse was in running the business.

  • The value each spouse personally brings to the business, including professional qualifications and customer relationships.

  • Whether one spouse borrowed from the family to fund the business.

  • Can one spouse or the other buy out the other spouse?

  • How the spouses divide the remaining assets and liabilities – which can include retirement and pensions as well as the primary and secondary homes.

  • The ability of each individual to earn a similar wage outside of the business.

  • Are there other partners that own a share of the business?

For more information on all things Divorce related – I found the website as a good source for information regarding anything related to women and divorce.

You May Be Entitled To Your Ex-Spouse's Social Security

You are eligible to collect spousal benefits on a living spouse's benefits as long as:

  • The marriage lasted at least 10 years.

  • You have not remarried.

  • You are at least 62 years of age.

  • Your ex-spouse is entitled to collect Social Security retirement or disability benefits.

Contact the Social Security Administration for more information or to claim benefits. You can make an in-person

appointment or talk directly to discuss benefits via telephone by calling 800-772-1213.

Moving On After Divorce

The day will come when, finally, you are through the divorce process. Divorce does change things, but it is also an opportunity to make a life that you want and do the things that are important to you.

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