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Melbourne family Lawyer

Divorcing Over 50 – The Grey Divorce

Do you stay in a marriage that is over or risk financial ruin for happiness?  Unless you are a highly evolved Zen master your divorce is likely to “suck” – most do.

Getting divorced at any age is difficult. Everyone wants their marriage to work however divorcing later in life presents unique challenges and being newly single can be terrifying.   It is sometimes thought people “your age” are not supposed to get divorced.

If you are divorcing after 50, chances are your children may be teenagers or older. Their reaction may be unfavourable and even hostile. Be prepared to help older children cope with the divorce.  It’s also important to monitor your children’s feelings. Your kids may be older, but don’t assume it’s easier on them than it would be if they were younger.   You may choose to end your role as husband or wife, but your role as mother or father does not end. Handling your divorce process with your children in mind provides opportunities to share in their lives without the tension.

The financial consequences of a divorce can be significantly more damaging for older divorcing couples.  You may have dedicated your entire life to the family and marriage and have no professional skills of any kind. You have have been hard at work earning good money to support a family that now you feel has disappeared.  You may even already be retired, your assets fairly fixed and your employment opportunities may be limited.  There are now two households to support. 

An amicable divorce process will limit the cost of suffering financially and emotionally.  As difficult as dealing with all of these issues will be, one of the most significant impacts that divorce over 50 will have on your life is the inevitable financial strain.  The equitable division of assets and liabilities is a concern in almost all divorces and generally the older you are the more complicated your finances have likely become.

Given the typical level of assets and complexities it is important that you get legal advice, but doing so doesn’t mean you have to go to battle. No matter what kind of grey divorce you may be facing you have the power to choose how you handle it and we can assist you accomplish a more comprehensive and cost-effective dissolution of your marriage.   Even if your split is amicable it is important to seek your own legal advice early on.

Call or email us now for advice from one of our experienced and knowledgeable lawyers.

Don't assume your partner will get half of your asset's increase in value!

It is a prevailing shorthand for many family lawyers that a starting point in a property division for clients is to work out what each party had at the beginning of the relationship, apply a percentage to what they have now, and estimate that your contributions otherwise during the relationship are '50/50'. However, a new case has emphasised the risks in taking this shorthand approach in some situation.

In the matter of Anson & Meek [2017] FamCAFC 257 (http://www7.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FamCAFC/2017/257.html), the trial Judge found that the Husband had brought in a property worth about $1,000,000 at the beginning of the relationship. That property had increased in value to almost $2,000,000 at the time of the family law trial. The assessment of contributions during the relationship, although not linked explicitly to this calculation, meant that the Wife was treated as having contributed half of the increase in value.

The Full Court took issue with this outcome, and identified that in fact the increase in value of the property was not solely due to the financial and non-financial contributions of the parties during the relationship (including homemaking duties), but also to prevailing market factors. In fact, a very large proportion of the increase in value was connected to the increase in the land value of this rural property, rather than the increase in value of the home itself. It would stand to reason then that the Husband should have a greater percentage contribution attributed to him, as without his initial capital to buy the property, the parties would not have been in a position to profit so handsomely.

The case seems to indicate that the Court should not neglect the concept of 'springboarding' when looking at assets such as these. It is important that you have a lawyer who understands these concepts and is able to dig into the detail of your assets, rather than treating your assets generically. Our lawyers at Nevett Ford Lawyers Melbourne are fully across this issue and will be able to provide you with the advice you need to get the outcome that is appropriate. You can call us now for more information on 03 9614 7111.

The Importance of Making a Will after Separation

Your Will should reflect any significant changes in your relationship status, whether you are getting married, having children, or breaking up.

If you made a Will whilst you were single but have now married, this automatically cancels your Will rendering it invalid.

Divorce affects your Will differently in each state. In Victoria, pursuant to the Wills Act 1997, upon divorce, any provision in your Will that relates to your former spouse becomes invalid. On the other hand, unlike divorce, separation does not automatically cancels the provisions in your Will relating to your former spouse/partner. This means that, if you separate, your former partner may still get a share of your estate (or your whole estate if you leave no children at the date of death) unless you make a new Will.

However, if you divorce but continue to maintain an amicable relationship with your former spouse for the sake of your children, and you intend to leave your former spouse as the executor of your estate after your death, your former spouse may encounter complications proving your intentions when you are no longer around.

Rather than leaving these issues to the Supreme Court to unravel, it would save one the hassle and legal fees to simply make a new Will to ensure your intentions are clear. If you think about this carefully, taking the time to draw up a Will or revisit your old Will each time a significant event occurs is worth taking the time for, particularly if you have children or family members or friends you wish to provide for when you are no longer around.

At Nevett Ford Lawyers, we always advise clients who are starting or have finalised property proceedings, and or applied for divorce to make a Will (or a new Will) and properly arrange their estate affairs. We cannot emphasise the importance of this enough!

So, the next time you update your relationship status on Facebook and/or on other social media, think about this article and remind yourself to also update your Will! If you have done the former but not the latter, call us now on 03 9614 7111 or email Melbourne@nevettford.com.au.