In the second installment of our New Jersey Family Law Podcast Series, we are proud to present – Impact of Grey Divorce on Retirement Planning. Based on one of our earlier blog posts, Robert Epstein and I highlight the practical implications associated with the recent uptick in divorce among the “Baby Boomer” generation – those
Wikipedia defines grey divorce as a "term referring to the demographic trend of an increasing divorce rate for older ("grey-haired") couples in long-lasting marriages." Now while "grey divorces" of a short or mid length marriage provide challenges for a divorce attorney, many believe that divorces of long term marriages are easy. Just whack up the assets 50-50, agree to permanent alimony and call it a day, right? That is not an uncommon result, but does it really make sense to do so and not consider real life anticipated events such as retirement and the receipt of Social Security, to name just two.
Typically, when marriages are longer than 20 years, the concept of permanent alimony seems like a no brainer. When the parties are in their sixties (or maybe even late fifties) does this make sense? What if the parties always discussed and agreed that at age 65, the husband was going to retire and planned and lived their life accordingly? Now, at age 61, either party seeks a divorce (I was going to say the wife – but it really doesn’t matter). Should this be a permanent alimony case? The default answer is yes but should there be more critical analysis to this?
In this case, we can assume that all of the assets will be divided 50-50, except perhaps a business asset. Even then, while business assets are usually disproportionately divided, for longer marriages, the non-titled spouse gets more than they would have in a shorter marriage (the fairness of this may be the subject of another post.) In addition, it is likely that the amount of alimony afforded will not allow the payor to save substantially before the divorce and a normal retirement age in a few years hence.
If the agreement does not account for retirement, aren’t the parties just buying themselves more litigation in a few years? Should consideration be given to allowing for retirement and the termination of alimony any time after retirement age without the need to litigate? If that is the case and someone still works full time after the agreed upon retirement age, should alimony continue?