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Seeking financial support in a "gray" divorce

Elderly couples can go through serious marital problems no matter the length of their marriage. And while divorce could impact any married couple, when a couple dissolves their marriage later in life they are likely to encounter different and sometimes more challenging decisions.

No matter the cause or reason for a divorce later in life, which is also referred to as a "gray" divorce, both spouses should become familiar with the process and everything that must be divided. For most divorcing couples in New Mexico and elsewhere, understanding the finances and financial information among and between the spouses is crucial. These details will determine whether a spouse will seek financial support in order to help them to become self-supportive after the end of the marriage.

In order to obtain a full grasp of the financial situation, divorcing spouses need to gather all the necessary records. Because it is possible a spouse might be hiding assets, it is important to gather at least the last three years of tax returns. In more complex financial situations, a spouse might consider hiring a forensic accountant. This will ensure that all assets are uncovered and dealt with in the divorce process.

When a spouse requests alimony, it is likely that the spouse requires financial support either presently or in the future. In some cases, a spouse might have devoted an entire life to being a homemaker, never entering the workforce or getting an education. Therefore, that spouse might qualify for permanent alimony.

Gray divorces often mean looking at retirement assets and the division of multiple homes. Retirement accounts could be a resource for financial support. However, if a spouse receives a home or other property in a divorce, that spouse needs to consider the future implications from that property. Upkeep could be costly, making it difficult for the spouse to cover the expenses involved with the property. Thus, it is important to consider future financial implications with the assets divided in a gray divorce.

Like any divorce, a gray divorce leaves spouses asking many questions. In order to gain more insight and the answers to their questions, it is important that divorcing spouses take the time to understand their situation and the options available to them.

Source:, "Gray Divorce: What Women Who Divorce Later in Life Need to Know," Debbie Carlson, July 21, 2016

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