As the decades wear on, as often happens, the glow of your marriage grows dimmer. One day, you and your spouse decide you no longer love each other and want a divorce.
That much you can agree on. Now comes the hard part. You have to divide the marital assets you have accumulated over your many years together. You have to negotiate a “gray divorce.”
You are going to hear a lot about marital assets during the divorce process. You also are going to hear the phrase “equitable distribution.” It means “fair;” do not confuse it with the concept of a “50-50 split.” Many of your assets, such as an inheritance, are not open to an even split.
You are going to learn the alimony is more complex in a gray divorce. The person paying alimony is more likely to have financial assets beyond his or her base salary. Other compensation can include stock options, executive compensation packages and so on. You must track down and assign a dollar value to each.
Not all marital assets are obvious at first glance. You have to think ahead to the impact of Social Security benefits, life insurance and more.
Your largest asset likely is your 401(k) retirement account. Different plans have different rules that make dividing them even more complex. The same holds true for pension plans.
You also have to account for the sentimental value of some assets. These can include photographs, family heirlooms and other property. Unless you want a court making uninformed decisions, you will need to work with your spouse.
Protecting your assets
You spent decades building a life with your spouse. Now you are tearing it apart over the course of weeks or months.
Invest as much time in planning your own future as you did in your many years together. Emotions governed your marriage. Now it is time to strike a business deal.