Facing a Grey Divorce? PART 1: Here’s what you need to know.
Separation, no matter what your age, is difficult. “Silver Split” or “Grey Divorce” as it is becoming increasingly known, can pose its own unique considerations and can leave some of the expected consequences of separation being felt more sharply.
In this two-part series, we canvass some of the big picture challenges facing grey divorcees, answer some of the most commonly asked questions and in so doing dispel some of the common myths. We will also work hard to equip you with some legal and practical “knowhow” to navigate the day-to-day road ahead.
Firstly, and in order to better understand the challenges you now face, it is important to understand the profile of a grey divorcee.
You are likely to have been born sometime between 1945 and 1965 and therefore now be at least in your late 50s but more likely in your 60s or possibly straddling the age of 70 years plus.
You will have begun married life taking on either a “homemaker” or “breadwinner” role and even if, throughout your lifetime, these roles become more blurred (for example through retraining, starting up your own small business or leaving a well-paid job to undertake consultancy work, or investing in a start-up or gaining a board appointment) many features of that specialisation of labour remain firmly ingrained in your DNA.
Another consideration is that one or both of you may have substantial superannuation entitlements accrued over many years of the marriage.
It may also be the case that one or both of you may have left the workforce or may not have worked for many years. As such, you may have been financially supported by the other and be anxious about how you will meet your day to day living expenses and what superannuation you will have to fall back on in the future.
There is a fair likelihood that your adult children remain partly dependent on you financially and an even greater chance that there is a wedding for one of them on the horizon. You may have advanced to one of your children or perhaps an elderly parent a significant sum of money that, when you were a couple seemed feasible, but now as you look to your future as a singleton creates further financial stress.
Additionally, you may be taking responsibility for the chronic health needs of an elderly parent. If not, there is a fair likelihood that you are either:
- facing your own health challenges and looking to a partner who you can no longer rely on; or
- witnessing the gradual deterioration in the health of the spouse who you have co-existed with for the past 10 or so years, patiently waiting for your children to grow up so that they can move out of home.
Without exception, your life expectancy is less than those younger couples who separate in their 30s and 40s and have an abundance of time ahead of them to recoup some of the financial losses separation inevitably brings.
Fortunately, the unique or differently felt issues facing grey divorcees are mitigated by some of the options that can be available, especially with the right expert advice and dispute resolution tools at the ready.
It then becomes not only a question of “carving up the pie” but also a case of creating a bigger net matrimonial financial pool to ensure that each separating spouse’s slice is as generous as possible. In so doing it will guard against a situation whereby you are left in a near impoverished state 10 years from now.
Without a doubt, your wealth should be harnessed, protected, and put to good use in a grey divorce for what are hopefully many healthy and happy years ahead, even if at the moment it seems an impossible task.
Now that you have a clearer picture of the typical grey divorcee, read PART 2 of our Facing a Grey Divorce series: “Your top 8 questions answered”. In that article you will find an in-depth Q&A on the most commonly asked questions regarding a “grey” divorce, including inheritances, superannuation splitting, bank guarantees, income splitting and more.
If you are considering a separation or divorce or have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your matter with no obligation, in complete confidence.
At Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers we specialise in complex family law matters and are conveniently located in St Leonards, on Sydney’s North Shore. We have a team of accredited and experienced family lawyers available to help guide you through the emotional and financial challenges of separation and divorce.
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About the Authors:
Lisa Wagner is Managing Director and Principal of Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers. Lisa is an Accredited Family Law specialist holding honours degrees in economics and law. She is also a Collaboratively trained Family Lawyer, a nationally registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, and a Parenting Coordinator. Lisa has close to 30 years’ experience as a specialist family lawyer, experienced litigator and skilful negotiator in all family law matters; working for the majority of that time in Sydney’s CBD as well as on Sydney’s lower North Shore and Northern Beaches.
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Christine La Cava is a Senior Associate at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers. Christine is an Accredited Family Law specialist and a Collaboratively trained Family Lawyer, who has worked exclusively in Family Law for the past fifteen years, predominantly in the Northern Beaches area of Sydney. Additionally, Christine has held roles in Local Courts throughout NSW including as Chamber Magistrate, Clerk of the Court, Registrar and Coroner. For those matters that require Court intervention, Christine is experienced in the Court process having regularly appeared before Judges and Registrars in both the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Christine’s breadth of experience and natural empathy, mean that you can feel confident in knowing you are being represented by a senior family lawyer who has proven experience in achieving the best outcomes for her clients.
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These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.