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What is a "Gray Divorce?"


A Gray Divorce refers to a demographic trend that has seen an increase in the separation or divorce of older couples who have been married for a long time.

Divorce rates for couples over 50 have doubled in the past decade. These divorces affect financial security issues due to the fewer remaining working years of these couples.

Support for dependent spouses is a big issue. Developing a career later in life is often not a viable option. As a New York divorce attorney and mediator I see older couples with long marriages divorcing often these days.

A client of mine, Sara, had been a homemaker for 20 years, raising three children, and working part-time from home making costume jewelry, earning about $6,000 per year. Her husband was in finance, earning a high six figure salary. When Sara called me she was very concerned about how she was going to meet her expenses after the divorce having only earned $6,000 per year working from home.

As part of my divorce strategy, in order to supplement her spousal support, we arranged for her husband to transfer more than the typical 50% of his retirement assets to her. Since she was over 59 1/2, she did not have to pay a penalty to withdraw and use this money. Since she had to pay taxes on what she took out, we also arranged for her to receive extra funds with which to pay the taxes on shrare. I prepared a Qualified Domestic Relations Order so this could be a tax-free transfer to her. Another way for her to be protected was to have her husband elect survivor's benefits. She was also eligible for social security based on her husband's earnings history, since they had been married for over 10 years.

The couple had other assets, including securities accounts and real estate. After a long marriage, Sara was entitled to perhaps 50% of these assets. Tax issues had to be reviewed carefully. There is an exclusion from income for gain from the sale or exchange of a principal residence of up to $250,000 for single individuals, and $500,000 for couples filing jointly.

There are three requirements for entitlement to these exclusions. We had to make sure these were met, and also figure out whether the house sale would take place before or after the divorce was final.

Since the children were over 21, the couple did not have to deal with child support or custody in their agreement. Her husband was already paying for college and graduate school for the children.

Another client of mine was on disability, and we had to figure out how she was going to pay her bills after the divorce. Her disability income was tax free, but, after a long-term marriage, she was entitled to lifetime "alimony." This is another example of the typical problems that have to be handled when people divorce at the age of 50 or older.

It takes sophisticated legal advice to plan a late-life divorce. Sometimes I engage the assistance of my team of experts which consists of trust and estate attorneys, accountants and financial advisors, to make sure all issues are thoroughly addressed.

Sara was lucky because there were sufficient assets and income to provide financial security for her, and her husband was astute enough to realize that she was entitled to what she would receive, and that it was better to negotiate a settlement than go to court.

There are many other instances in which wealthy spouses try to hang on to all of their money, which is why we hear about those cases so often in the news.

It takes a divorce attorney with sophisticated knowledge to do the strategic planning necessary to get the best possible del in this type of case.

With over 35 years of experience as a divorce attorney and mediator I have the expertise to skillfully create a financially viable plan for you and your family if you are considering a divorce at a later stage of life.

Don’t stay in a long term unhappy, unhealthy marriage that’s just dragging on and on because you are afraid you won’t be able to provide for yourself or your family. Call me, let’s chat about what is possible.

During the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic all our FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are conveniently conducted virtually by telephone or TeleDivorce by Zoom or Skype to reduce risk and maintain safety for everyone!

I look forward to showing you that providing for your financial future is possible! Let me show you!

Stay Home, Stay Healthy and Stay Safe!

Warm regards,


Call New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner now to book your free consultation.

We still have some time slots available this week.

Call 212.734.1551