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Financial considerations of a North Carolina gray divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 16, 2023 | Divorce

Your choice to stay in an unhappy marriage has always been rooted in your child’s well-being. But now that you have raised your child well into a self-sufficient adult, you finally have the time, mobility and wisdom to face what you’ve always known to be the unfortunate fate of your marriage.

Although getting a divorce later in life does not concern your child as much as it would have during your younger years, there are more pressing considerations that come with age – your finances.

Financials at the forefront

Having a gray divorce may sound like an impending financial storm. As an equitable distribution state, North Carolina looks at equally dividing a couple’s marital wealth inclusive of incurred debts, unless a judge deems it unfair under specific circumstances. The primary consideration you should look at in this scenario is who, between you and your ex-spouse, is the breadwinner and the entirely dependent party.

Therefore, aside from asset distribution, you must also secure the following:

  • Retirement plans: Pensions, 401(k) accounts or individual retirement accounts (IRA) classify as marital assets and are subject to equal distribution. Only savings and plans accrued prior to the marriage are personal property. Further, retirement plans carry substantial tax implications.
  • Social Security benefits: Social Security claims may be more complex than retirement funds. Through a qualified domestic relations order, a noncontributing spouse may claim benefits from the contributing spouse’s records after a two-year waiting period if: they are over 60, their marriage lasted at least 10 years and they are currently unmarried. If the noncontributing spouse decides to remarry, there is an automatic termination of their Social Security benefits.
  • Health care: If a spouse completely relies on their former spouse’s health insurance policy through employment, their former spouse’s employer will most likely terminate their coverage. Also, the reliant spouse may have difficulty trying to reenter the workforce to obtain health insurance for their increasingly expensive medical expenses.

As in all things in life, it is never too late to plan for something as crucial as your financials post-divorce. You have accumulated significant assets over the years with your ex-spouse. But if addressed now, your financial concerns can avoid devastating results and lead to a comfortable retirement.

A new financial perspective

At this point in your life, your comprehensive financial plans do not apply to your current circumstances. As unfortunate as it is, you do not have much time left to rebuild your finances. But even if your new financial life presents unique challenges, it is not impossible to conquer. With the guidance of a legal team, you may still protect your wealth and face the future free of financial burdens.