Helping You Navigate Divorce After a Long-Term Marriage

With greater longevity, increased financial independence, and changed attitudes toward divorce, the rate of older couples choosing to part ways continues to rise. Divorces among middle-aged couples — also referred to as “gray divorces” — doubled between 1990 and 2015. In fact, one out of every four divorces now involve couples who are 50 or older.

The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks knows how difficult ending a marriage is at any age — and how much harder it can be on a family who has been together for decades. Long-term marriage divorce attorney, Rick Banks, provides compassionate counsel and high-quality legal services to clients going through divorce and is committed to helping them navigate the significant change it can bring to their lives.

Unique Issues in a Gray Divorce

While divorce is never easy, ending a marriage in middle age can be much more complicated than when you are in your 20’s or 30’s. This is because older couples have had more time to accumulate assets and property together. They may also have invested in each other’s retirement and estate planning. Healthcare matters, insurance, business interests, Social Security, and taxes are just a few other issues spouses can face when divorcing after a long-term marriage.

Child custody and support are usually not matters that must be addressed by older couples parting ways. However, long-term marriage presents a number of unique issues, including the following:

  • Dividing marital assets — In every divorce, property and assets must be divided before a judge will grant the dissolution. Importantly, California is a community property state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage is considered jointly owned by both spouses and must be split evenly in divorce, regardless of who acquired it.
  • Business interests — Many older couples have businesses that must be split up during divorce. Critically, a couple may have started and grown the business together, which can make dividing it an even more contentious issue.
  • Retirement accounts — Whether you’ve recently retired or are planning to retire, it’s vital to be aware that your retirement benefits may be split in half when you divorce. Dividing these assets often means that neither spouse will be able to enjoy the lifestyle they had during the marriage. This is crucial to consider when negotiating a settlement agreement due to the substantial financial impact.
  • Social Security — You may be entitled to a former spouse’s Social Security benefits if you were married for ten years or more and are at least 62, even if they have remarried.
  • Medicare — You might qualify for Medicare benefits under your former spouse’s employment history if you were married for ten years or longer, are 62 or older, and remain unmarried.
  • Long-term care — Getting divorced at an advanced age can affect a person’s plans for whether they go into an assisted living facility and how they will pay for it. These costs must be considered and planned for in a gray divorce.
  • Alimony — Alimony is usually awarded to a financially dependent spouse when a marriage lasted ten years or more. In long-term marriages there is no set duration, and the court has indefinite jurisdiction to make modifications as necessary.

In addition, a spouse’s competency can sometimes be questioned in a gray divorce. In such cases, a competency hearing may be required. If a party does not have the ability to make legal decisions or understand the divorce proceedings, they may require the assistance of a guardian ad litem to represent their interests.

There are many nuanced issues in gray divorces, and it is best to have knowledgeable counsel who understands these matters. The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks offers reliable representation to clients who are parting ways after long-term marriages and guides them through the complexities of gray divorce.

Alternatives to Litigation in Long-Term Marriage Divorce

Litigation in the courtroom isn’t always the only option to divorce. Notably, there are several alternative dispute resolution methods that spouses may utilize. Rather than allow a judge to determine the issues in your divorce, mediation, arbitration, and the collaborative divorce process can allow you to remain in control of the outcome. Not only are these methods more cost-effective than litigation, but they can also be faster and help you maintain amiability with your soon-to-be former spouse for the benefit of your family.

Mediation is conducted in a neutral setting with an emphasis placed on healthy communication and reduced conflict. During mediation sessions, you and your spouse work together with a mediator to create a settlement agreement that meets your specific needs. Unlike in divorce litigation, which takes place in a public courtroom, mediation allows you to keep the details of your divorce private and confidential. The court only receives the final settlement agreement, which is then signed and ordered by the judge.

Collaborative divorce is another non-adversarial option that allows spouses to keep their divorce matters outside of the courtroom. This process uses a team of professionals who are trained in their specific fields and can help you and your spouse reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. In addition to each party’s attorney, the collaborative team may comprise financial advisors, divorce coaches, and family specialists who can assist with finding solutions for holidays and family gatherings.

Divorce arbitration is similar in some ways to mediation in that it does not take place inside a courtroom. However, it does involve a third-party making decisions regarding your divorce case. While the process does not use a judge, arbitration is conducted like a “mini trial.” A neutral party called an “arbitrator” evaluates the evidence and hears the testimony of the parties to determine any issues that have not been resolved.

No two gray divorces are the same. The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks will discuss the facts of your case and implement a tailored strategy to accomplish your goals. Whether your divorce matter is resolved through litigation or an alternative dispute resolution method, Attorney Rick Banks strives to achieve the best possible results for every client.

Contact an Experienced Fresno Long-Term Marriage Divorce Attorney

Gray divorce can be emotionally and legally challenging. It’s essential to have a diligent long-term marriage divorce attorney who can advise you regarding your rights and options. The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks has been assisting clients throughout Fresno and the surrounding area with their divorce matters for more than 20 years. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559)222-4891.