Gray Divorces in Pennsylvania

According to a study published in the Journal of Gerontology Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences in 2012, Americans older than age 50 are twice as likely to get a divorce as people in that age group 20 years ago. While the legal processes of a gray divorce are very similar to that of a divorce involving those younger than 50, some of the issues that couples may face in a gray divorce are different. To understand the options and issues regarding your divorce, contact ARM Lawyers.

Grounds for Divorce in Pennsylvania

The grounds for a divorce, regardless of age, are the same for all couples within the state of Pennsylvania. According to Section 3301 of Pennsylvania Code, grounds for divorce include the following listed below.

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment for at least a year
  • Sentence of imprisonment of at least two years
  • Bigamy
  • Institutionalization for at least three years
  • Mutual consent
  • “Irretrievable breakdown” or the belief of one party in the marriage that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

Spouses do not have to agree to get a divorce. If one spouse would like to get a divorce and the other does not, the former spouse still has the right to seek divorce.

Common Issues in Gray Divorce

While the grounds for divorce are exactly the same in gray divorce, some of the issues that couples may face are different. For example, most people older than 50 do not have young children. Therefore, the issue of child custody or child support payments may be absent. If the couple does have children, they may be older than 18.

Gray divorces often involve retirement funds and pensions. While a divorce involving a younger couple may contain these assets too, they may be more of an issue in a gray divorce because the spouses may be retired or approaching retirement. Another big issue in gray divorce is that of spousal support payments, or alimony. It is not uncommon for one spouse to be financially dependent upon another, making alimony a key issue for older individuals who may not enter or return to the workforce.

Factors That Affect Asset Division and Support Amounts

One of the first things that spouses should consider when it comes to property division is the difference between marital property and non-marital property. The former is property for which you and your spouse share joint ownership; the latter is property that you or your spouse own independently. In a divorce, the only property that will be divided is marital property. However, any property that you and your spouse acquired together during marriage is marital property, regardless of whose name is actually on the title.

It is the job of the court to ensure that marital property is divided equitably. Below are some factors that may be considered when determining equitable division.

  • Length of your marriage – this is often very long in individuals older than 50
  • Employability –spouses’ ages may affect earning potential
  • Health – age can play a factor in health
  • Standard of living in the marriage
  • Separate property of each spouse
  • Debt

Marital conduct – such as adultery or cruelty – will not affect equitable property division. However, marital conduct may be a factor when determining a spousal support amount. The above factors used to divide property may determine an alimony amount, as well as education level and future job opportunities of the spouse receiving alimony. However, as noted, gray divorce involves those older than 50, most of whom have no plans to return to work.

Our Attorneys Can Help with a Gray Divorce

If you’re seeking a gray divorce in Pennsylvania, you need an attorney who understands the issues specific to your age group. At ARM Lawyers, our attorneys have the knowledge it takes to help you file for divorce and assist you in arguing your side during property division and other issues.