Grey Divorce in Colorado: Navigating Divorce Later in Life

Divorce is a challenging experience at any stage of life, but when it occurs later in life, it can bring about a unique set of complexities and considerations. Referred to as “grey divorce,” these separations involve couples typically over the age of 50, and they face a distinct set of challenges that younger couples might not encounter.

In Colorado, the aging population is not exempt from these realities, making it crucial for older couples to understand the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of divorce. In this blog, we will explore the intricacies of grey divorce in Colorado, focusing on the key issues related to retirement and healthcare.

The Rise of Grey Divorce

Grey divorce has been on the rise over the past few decades, a phenomenon largely attributed to the evolving societal norms and the changing dynamics of relationships. In Colorado, this trend is no exception. While the state’s divorce rate has slightly decreased over the years, the proportion of older adults seeking divorce has steadily increased. This shift has brought forth a variety of unique challenges that older couples need to navigate.

Retirement and Asset Division

One of the most significant aspects of a grey divorce is the division of assets, particularly retirement funds. In Colorado, marital assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution. For older couples, this can mean dividing decades of accumulated assets, such as 401(k) plans, pensions, and Social Security benefits.

It’s essential for individuals going through a grey divorce to understand the state’s laws regarding property division. Colorado follows the equitable distribution principle, which doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split but aims for a fair and just division. Factors like the length of the marriage, financial contributions of each spouse, and the value of assets come into play.

Couples nearing retirement age must also consider the tax implications of dividing retirement accounts. Qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) may be necessary to ensure the tax-advantaged status of these accounts is maintained during the division.

Social Security benefits are another critical issue to address. In Colorado, if a marriage lasted for at least ten years, a divorced spouse can potentially claim benefits based on their ex-spouse’s earnings. Understanding these regulations can significantly impact one’s post-divorce financial security.

Spousal Support In Colorado

Spousal support is another consideration in grey divorce. If one spouse has been financially dependent on the other during the marriage, they may be entitled to receive spousal support. The court evaluates factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial circumstances, and the contributions made during the marriage to determine the appropriate amount and duration of payments.

It’s essential for older couples to understand their financial needs post-divorce, especially considering their reduced earning capacity and limited time to rebuild their finances before retirement.

Healthcare Concerns

Healthcare is a paramount concern for older couples facing divorce. Many couples rely on each other’s health insurance policies and Medicare benefits. Upon divorce, access to these essential benefits may be compromised.

One option is to negotiate a settlement that includes provisions for healthcare coverage. For example, the higher-earning spouse may be required to maintain health insurance for their ex-spouse, often through COBRA or private insurance. Additionally, if one spouse has a lower income and limited access to retirement accounts, they might be entitled to a larger share of the marital assets to help cover future healthcare costs.

Emotional and Psychological Impact

The emotional toll of grey divorce cannot be underestimated. Decades of shared experiences, family memories, and life’s ups and downs make the process uniquely challenging for older couples. Many individuals at this stage of life have grown children and even grandchildren, adding an additional layer of complexity to the emotional landscape.

The importance of emotional support and counseling should not be overlooked. Seeking the guidance of a therapist or counselor can help individuals cope with the emotional strain of divorce and develop strategies for moving forward in a healthy and positive manner.

Legal Considerations and Mediation

Navigating the complexities of grey divorce in Colorado requires experienced legal counsel. It’s important to work with a family law attorney who is well-versed in the specific challenges faced by older couples.

Mediation can be an effective approach for grey divorce, as it allows couples to work together with the guidance of a neutral third party to reach mutually agreeable solutions. This can be particularly beneficial in preserving amicable relationships, which is essential when grown children and shared family events are involved.

Grey Divorces In Colorado

Grey divorce in Colorado presents a unique set of challenges, particularly in the areas of retirement and healthcare. Understanding the legal, financial, and emotional aspects of divorce is crucial for older couples looking to navigate this difficult journey successfully.

With the right legal counsel, emotional support, and careful consideration of the financial implications, grey divorce can be managed in a way that allows individuals to secure their future and move forward with confidence. In such cases, preparation, knowledge, and compassionate guidance are key to a successful transition into the next phase of life.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.