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How couples might navigate finances in a “gray divorce”

Older people in Texas who are facing divorce may have complicated finances after many years together. Furthermore, since they may already be retired or retirement could be just a few years away, they have less time in the workforce to recover financially from divorce compared to younger people. Therefore, it is important that they protect themselves financially during property division.

Individuals first need to know what they own, so making a list of assets is important. This should include getting appraisal values for such items as art and antiques. Retirement accounts may make up a substantial portion of the assets owned for some couples. Pension plans, IRAs, 401(k)s and annuities all have different rules for being divided in a divorce. Another issue is that some people might try to hide assets from a spouse. An individual who believes this may be happening might want to talk to an attorney about how to proceed.

People also need to know what their plans will be after the divorce. Some people may need to make sure that they have enough in liquid assets for an emergency fund. Parents may want to make sure that they can continue to help their children or grandchildren financially. Other people might want to make big life changes, such as traveling or starting a foundation. These choices and needs will inform what they ask for during property division.

Since Texas is a community property state, marital property is supposed to be divided equally. However, couples do have some flexibility in negotiating what this will look like in practice, and they might reach an agreement in which each person takes certain assets rather than having to split their assets in half. Their attorneys may be able to help them in these negotiations. Many couples prefer this approach to litigation although going to court is also an option if necessary.