“Gray divorces” increase in Fairfax County, Virginia

On behalf of Jarrell, Hicks & Waldman, PC posted in Divorce on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.

An interesting trend is on the rise in the Virginia county of Fairfax -- gray divorce. "Gray divorce" refers to the situation in which married couples aged 55 and older decide to get divorced. The phenomenon of gray divorce is remarkable for several reasons. The increase reveals that there is no longer a point in marriages at which couples decide to remain married simply because of the spouses' age. People recognize that they do not need to stay in unhappy marriages simply because they are getting older. Additionally, gray divorces often involve complex distribution of assets issues.

The rate of divorces has typically been high in Fairfax County in light of its population size. In recent years, the divorce rate has generally been on the decline in the county. This statistic does not hold true for the rate of gray divorces in the county, however.

With gray divorces on the rise in Fairfax County, Virginians should familiarize themselves with the issues involved in such divorces. Gray divorces often involve issues that are quite distinct from those which young couples must face when they separate. When young couples divorce, they often must resolve issues related to child custody and support as well as spousal maintenance. In contrast, divorces between older couples rarely involve children and long-term support. Instead, older couples must settle issues stemming from health care benefits, retirement assets, and investments. These issues can raise complex financial questions and concerns if the couple cannot agree on a distribution plan. Generally, if the couple cannot agree on how assets are to be distributed, the divorce court will have to intervene. And, the law usually dictates that the court equitably divide assets.

The Virginia divorce study demonstrates that attitudes towards marriage are changing. Likewise, the rise in gray divorces highlights that people must approach divorce with more of an open mind. Gray divorces present new and different issues than the more conventional perception of divorce.

Source: WashingtonPost.com, "Fairfax County seeing rise in "gray divorces," Tom Jackman, Aug. 8, 2012

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