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San Diego Gray Divorce Lawyers


Divorce After 20 Years or More of Marriage

When a couple has been married or together for a long time, with every passing year their belongings, finances, and homes become more and more intertwined. The end of a long-term marriage comes with a number of unique issues. Besides causing emotional and psychological issues, these divorces can also sabotage retirement plans. After decades together, it can be quite a challenge to separate and differentiate between who owns what. For many older couples, settling down financially can be a significant challenge after a gray divorce.

The experienced San Diego gray divorce attorneys at Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., have a successful track record of handling divorce cases involving long-term marriages. We understand the complexity surrounding these cases and will work diligently to protect your rights under all circumstances. Call our lawyers at (858) 458-9500 to discuss your case.

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Understanding Gray Divorce

Gray divorces are often more complicated than other divorces because of how complex the finances are for older adults. While married, you may have started a family business, acquired a large amount of property, gained access to retirement benefits, and allowed your finances to become intertwined with your spouse’s.

In these cases, you may not have to deal with child custody and support, but you may still have to contend with spousal support and complex property division laws. All this can make it incredibly hard to come to a fair divorce agreement, but a skilled San Diego divorce lawyer can work with you to untangle your finances and protect your future.

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Complex Challenges in Long-Term Marriage

The longer a marriage lasts, the more complicated it can be to end it. Couples can become comfortable with a particular lifestyle and may not plan for the worst-case scenario. As a result, their lives become deeply mixed, making it harder to split their incomes and assets when they separate. Given how complicated property division can become in gray divorces, you will need to factor in several financial issues:

Personal Property and Real Estate: Long-term marriages often involve more property to divide than shorter marriages. After years of acquiring belongings, it can prove difficult to divide up real estate, vehicles, antiques, and other valuables. Both parties will have to invoice their belongings and prioritize which assets are the most important to them. It is unlikely that each spouse will get everything he or she wants in the divorce proceedings.

Retirement Benefits: If both spouses worked equally during the marriage, you can divide the retirement benefits right down the middle. However, many long-term marriages involve one spouse working or at least earning considerably more than the other. First, it will become necessary to review the future retirement benefit earning potential of each spouse. If the spouses are already near retirement age and the spouse without benefits will not reasonably have time to earn benefits, it could lead to complications.

Family Businesses: If you own or operate a business, then it can be considered a marital asset in your divorce, even if you started it prior to your marriage. Your spouse does not even need to be a part of the normal operations for him or her to stake a claim in it. You will need to determine the value of your business and come to an agreement on how it should be divided. Some options include buying out your spouse’s shares, selling or liquidating it, or agreeing to split it. This can be particularly challenging if it is a family business with long-term vested interests.

Spousal Support: Spousal support is another important factor to consider in a long-term marriage. In general, longer marriages tend to result in longer terms for spousal support. Marriages that have lasted for decades have a tendency to result in permanent spousal maintenance. This is common when one of the spouses did not have a career because he or she raised the children.

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Contact Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. Today

It's important to remember that even the most amicable of divorces can become stressful. It is a mistake to assume that you do not need a lawyer by your side. While it is true that you may be able to peacefully negotiate the terms of your divorce with limited legal interference, it's still advisable to research all of your options before coming to an agreement.

The stakes are high in divorces, especially after a long-term marriage. Your assets, belongings, and emotions are shared. But there are solutions. At Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., our team of experienced San Diego family law attorneys can work with you to develop a detailed roadmap for how to divide your household, business, and assets, as well as advocate for your best interests during a divorce. We have over 45 years of experience and can utilize our skills to:

  • Determine the value of all of your property, including retirement funds, real estate, vehicles, personal property, and other assets
  • Work with financial experts to calculate the value of your business
  • Investigate hidden assets
  • Find amicable solutions to changes in your insurance and retirement benefits
  • Advocate for your fair share in a divorce
  • Evaluate any prenuptial or postnuptial agreements

If you are going through a divorce after a long-term marriage or are contemplating one, call Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C., at (858) 458-9500 today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is a "gray divorce"?

Q. How common are gray divorces?

Q. What makes gray divorce unique?

Q. Will my pension plan be affected by my divorce?

Q. How common is spousal support in gray divorces?

Q. Will my family business be affected by the divorce?

Q. My children are all adults. Will they be involved in my divorce?


Q. What is a "gray divorce"?

A. A gray divorce is the separation of two people over 50 who have been together for over 20 years.

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Q. How common are gray divorces?

A. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, the divorce rate among people 50 or older has doubled since 1990. As the American population ages, gray divorce is expected to keep increasing. By 2030, it is estimated that 800,000 gray divorces will occur each year.

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Q. What makes gray divorce unique?

A. When a couple has been married only a few years, it's relatively easier to divide their assets during the divorce proceedings. When a gray divorce occurs, the couple's assets have become so intertwined that it is difficult to determine who owns what. Homes, cars, jewelry, artwork, furniture, and pets are purchased and appreciated by long-term couples equally.

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Q. Will my pension plan be affected by my divorce?

A. Yes, your pension and retirement benefits can be considered marital assets in a divorce and be subject to property division. This includes military pension plans, 401(k) plans, and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). If one spouse was the primary provider while the other was the primary caregiver for children and a homemaker, it may be necessary to divide the retirement funds between both parties. Furthermore, spouses who were stay-at-home parents may lose access to their spouse's insurance after the divorce. So, this may have to be taken into consideration during the negotiation process.

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Q. How common is spousal support in gray divorces?

A. Spousal support is almost always a factor if a marriage lasted more than 10 years. If one spouse has been out of the workforce for a long time, they will need support after the divorce to adjust to life as a single adult. Spousal support may be needed to ensure that the newly singled spouse is provided for. In California, some of the factors courts consider to determine spousal support or alimony include each spouse's health situation, education, and their value in the workforce. The issue of continuing spousal support becomes increasingly complicated as an older couple heads toward retirement.

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Q. Will my family business be affected by the divorce?

A. A business is considered a marital asset that must be divided at the time of a divorce, whether you started it before or after your marriage.

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Q. My children are all adults. Will they be involved in my divorce?

A. Even if your children are adults, they may still be impacted by your divorce. You may not have to determine custody or support, but if your child is on your insurance plan, their coverage may be affected if you also lose coverage. In addition, if you are financially supporting your adult child or hoped to tuck away certain assets as inheritance, this too can be influenced in divorce proceedings.

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Additional Information

(858) 458-9500

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C.
11455 El Camino Real, Suite 470
San Diego, California 92130
Office: (858) 458-9500
Fax: (858) 630-2341
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Our Firm Services The Following California Areas:
San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach.

Certified family law specialist by the State Bar of California's Board of Legal Specialization.

Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. is a San Diego, California firm practicing exclusively in the area of domestic relations law. We handle a wide range of matters including divorce, child custody, and child support. Whatever your situation we can be of assistance. Feel free to contact us today.

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