While marriage rates have steadily fallen over recent years and divorce rates have risen, not only are more divorces being filed throughout the United States but many more types of divorces are being filed. When most people think of divorce, they typically imagine younger couples who rush into marriage or otherwise realize they are incompatible, divorcing within a few years of marrying. However, today, many more “gray” divorces are happening than ever, and older Americans are ending their marriages at higher and higher rates each year.
As life expectancy has increased, more older Americans do not think they are too old to divorce when their marriages have deteriorated past any hope of repair. While older married couples are more likely to seek resolutions to their problems and preserve their marriages, a gray divorce could be the best option for some older Oklahoma City residents, and it’s vital to understand the unique implications of divorcing at an older age.
Essential Components of a Divorce in Oklahoma City
Divorce ends a marriage contract and divides the marital property the couple has acquired during their marriage. If the divorcing spouses have children, they will need to resolve custody and child support. When older Americans and seniors divorce, they rarely need to address child custody-related issues. However, some gray divorces entail guardianship disputes when older parents care for their adult children with advanced disabilities.
Any divorce in the state will require a property division process, and this can be difficult for any married couple. Each spouse has the right to claim separate property, but all marital property is subject to division. If a married couple has limited assets and both spouses earn comparable income, this may be a relatively straightforward process. However, older couples who receive retirement benefits, social assistance of any kind, or who share employer-provided health insurance may face a host of additional financial complications if they are considering divorce.
An experienced Oklahoma City divorce attorney is a vital resource for anyone facing a gray divorce in the near future. Many older couples who decide to end their marriages later in life opt for legal separation due to the financial problems that a formal divorce can impose. This enables them to live separately while maintaining the practical benefits marriage provides. For example, if one older spouse is disabled and reliant on the other spouse’s employer-provided health insurance, the employed spouse may not mind the idea of legal separation to ensure their spouse maintains health care coverage.
Legal Separation Vs. Gray Divorce in Oklahoma City
Legal separation offers several potential advantages for many older spouses considering dissolution. The process can be demanding as it requires addressing most, if not all, the issues you would need to address in divorce. However, you and your spouse can take your time with the process and privately negotiate terms that are mutually agreeable. Throughout this process, your Oklahoma City divorce attorney can provide ongoing support and guidance to help you make more informed decisions.
If you complete a separation, you and your spouse can continue taking advantage of the practical benefits of marriage in separate living arrangements, but you also have the option of terminating the separation order and returning to married life. If you and your spouse later decide that a complete divorce would be better for your respective interests, transforming a legal separation order into a divorce is relatively straightforward. Divorce is final, and it can take time for the full financial impact of divorce to clearly manifest in some cases. Legal separation can provide an older couple the flexibility they need in the face of their unique medical concerns and economic constraints.
Q: Does It Matter Who Files the Divorce Petition?
A: Oklahoma law does not require you to cite a specific reason for filing for divorce. “Irreconcilable differences” is the blanket term used to denote that a marriage has deteriorated beyond hope of repair and further attempts at reconciliation would be futile. Therefore, there is no legal benefit to being the one who files the divorce petition, nor is there a disadvantage to being the respondent to a divorce petition.
Q: Can I File for Divorce With Cause?
A: While Oklahoma is a no-fault divorce state, some divorce petitions are filed in response to acute incidents like domestic violence, a spouse’s felony conviction, or the discovery of a serious substance abuse disorder or mental health condition. In the event that your spouse has harmed you or caused tangible damage to you and your children, these variables will influence the final outcome of your divorce proceedings. Therefore, an experienced Oklahoma City divorce attorney is a crucial asset if you are facing a gray divorce in response to your spouse’s gross misconduct or illegal behavior.
Q: What Happens to My Retirement Account in Divorce?
A: Marital property is subject to equitable distribution in the state, and most retirement accounts qualify as marital property since contributions to those accounts occur during marriage. Some retirement accounts include specific provisions regarding future divorce, and a beneficiary may have had to agree to these terms to be listed as a beneficiary; otherwise, state law dictates what percentage of your retirement benefits must go to your spouse based on the financial details of your marriage.
Q: Should I Hire an Attorney for a Legal Separation?
A: If you and your spouse find the idea of a legal separation preferable to a gray divorce, it is still important for both of you to have respective legal advisors you can trust. An experienced attorney will guide you through your separation negotiations, or they can guide you through the process of filing for divorce. For some older couples considering divorce, legal separation can be a valuable first step that can later be canceled or transformed into a formal divorce.
Gray divorce poses many difficult questions, and getting the answers you need in your specific situation is vital. Connect with an experienced Oklahoma City divorce attorney as soon as possible if you and your spouse are considering divorce or if you believe legal separation could be an effective alternative to gray divorce.