Divorce rates for people over the age of 50 have skyrocketed in the past 30 years. For the first time in history, older adults are more likely to be divorced than they are to be widowed, and the divorce rate is expected to continue climbing as the Baby Boomer generation ages.

Dubbed “gray divorces,” the separation of older couples often results in significant financial changes. Because many older divorcees built their lives with their partner, the process of untangling and separating two entwined lives can be very complicated. If you are considering divorce after a long marriage, here are three things you should keep in mind:


In Washington state, the court has the ability to order either partner to pay the other spousal support, also known as alimony. Spousal support can be ordered whenever one spouse was financially dependent on the other, regardless of who was at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.

Whether or not spousal support is ordered depends on the length of the marriage. In cases where the marriage spanned several decades, it is almost guaranteed that some type of spousal support will be ordered. This alimony can be granted for a term of years, or may extend for life.


In a community property state like Washington, the money that a spouse earned during the marriage is considered the property of both partners. This includes money which is in retirement accounts or pension accounts.

When an older couple divorces, these accounts will be split evenly between the two parties (unless some other arrangement is decided). Many older adults who believed they were set for their retirement years reconsider divorce after realizing that their nest egg will be cut in half.

Living Arrangements

After decades of living together, a couple usually maintains a family home. When this house is nearly paid for or is mortgage free, it becomes a valuable asset during the divorce.

This is important because Washington law requires a divorcing couple to split property evenly. If one partner chooses to keep the house, he or she may be holding on to a $100,000-$200,000 asset. In order to split the marital estate evenly, the spouse who keeps the real estate may have to give up his or her right to other assets, like retirement funds or spousal support.

While divorce in older people has its complications, working through a divorce with your former partner should not be a high-stress, high-conflict process. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law PLLC have many techniques at their disposal to help divorcing couples split marital property in an equitable way, and achieve great successes using mediation, collaboration, and other dispute resolution methods.

To learn more about dividing marital property in a divorce, contact us today by calling 360-926-9112.