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What property division issues arise in a ‘gray divorce’?

Sometimes a divorce doesn’t happen while a couple is still young and naive. Sometimes couples in Virginia who have been together for decades may find themselves in an unhappy marriage. There may be a certain breaking point in their marriage, such as an affair, or they may simply have grown apart over the years. However, when couples aged 50 and up decide to end their marriage — an act known as a “gray divorce,” – they may face issues younger couples do not, especially with regards to retirement.

Older couples may not have to worry about child custody or child support if their children are all grown adults. However, property division in a gray divorce can be more complex than it is for younger couples. If a couple is dividing an IRA or a 401(k), they must abide by certain rules to avoid financial penalties or unexpected tax consequences. Dividing annuities can also be difficult. In these situations, spouses who want to retain an annuity may have to do so in exchange for something of equal value, since cashing out an annuity can reduce its worth.

Older couples seeking a divorce may only have a few short years left to work before retirement — or may already be retired. Therefore, it is important that their retirement assets are divided in a manner that is fair to both spouses and will allow them to support themselves financially once the divorce is complete. Virginia is an equitable division state. This means that courts will divide the couple’s assets in a manner that is fair, even if it doesn’t result in an exact 50/50 split.

Property division can be complex for couples of any age, but it is especially important for couples nearing or at retirement. Older couples need to ensure they’ll be financially secure once their divorce is final. Therefore, they may want to seek professional guidance, so they can make informed decisions regarding property division and other divorce legal issues.

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