Several studies have found that divorce rates for people over age 50 have doubled over the last two decades. The trend has become so prevalent across the nation it has its own name – “gray divorce.”

In some ways, gray divorce is more straightforward than divorce for younger couples. Child custody and support, often a contentious issue, comes into play far less often for couples nearing retirement. However, there are important financial concerns to bear in mind, especially when it comes to retirement accounts.

Dividing retirement accounts in divorce

Marital property includes pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs, and other retirement funds. So, retirement funds are also subject to division in divorce. For those nearing retirement age or who are already retired, the prospect of having these funds divided in half can be daunting. On the other hand, a spouse who has historically been financially dependent may worry that they will be left with nothing.

Division of retirement accounts generally occurs through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order or QDRO. A QDRO is a court order that assigns an additional payee to a retirement account. This way, the funds can go to both former spouses without paying the typical 10% early withdrawal fees.

Keeping the house

When a couple has lived in the same home for many years, it isn’t surprising when a spouse wishes to keep that home in the divorce. In some cases, they might be willing to give up other financial assets in exchange for the house. However, it is important to keep in mind that with divorce comes the higher costs of living separately. Often, there are other ways to ensure everyone can walk away on equal footing.

How Oregon approaches marital property

Since Oregon follows the rules of equitable distribution, retirement assets are not necessarily divided 50/50. Instead, the court finds an arrangement that treats spouses equally. Couples in their 50s and 60s often have more high-value assets than younger couples, whether that means real estate, retirement funds, or a small business. To ensure these assets are handled equitably, it is best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney.