Many couples find they have grown apart after the kids graduate high school and start their own lives. If this scenario sounds familiar, you may be thinking about divorce after age 50.
Review the common concerns for others in your shoes, including division of marital property, retirement accounts and other assets in California.
Defining community and separate property
Anything you own together with your spouse constitutes community in California. This includes debt, earnings and purchases made with earnings accrued during the marriage, regardless of whose name actually appears on these items.
The state categorizes specific debts and assets as separate property. This includes debts, purchases or assets either of you accrued before the marriage. If either of you receives an inheritance or gift in your name only during the marriage, it remains separate property. You can also designate certain items as separate property in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Once you and your spouse legally separate, earnings, purchases and debts are no longer community property.
Commingling marital assets
After a marriage that has lasted many decades, assets that were once separate property are often commingled, or mixed, with community property. If you started a retirement account before meeting your spouse, for example, the account remains separate. However, after you get married, contributions to the account and interest earned during the marriage become community property. If you owned real estate before the marriage but your spouse later helped remodel the home or pay the mortgage, it becomes community property.
Unwinding a long relationship and the property you have amassed together can be complex. A professional valuation can help alleviate some of these issues for older adults.