When parties divorce later in life, it's sometimes referred to as a "grey divorce". The cause of these divorces can range from infidelity to health issues that affect one or both spouses happiness, to financial insecurity, or simply to the effects of empty-nest syndrome. Whatever, the reason, these divorces usually come after a couple has spent a couple of decades or more building a life together.
Why Are Assets Different in a Grey Divorce?
When a couple separates after such a long time, they both may think they know where all of their marital assets are, but that's not always the case. Especially in a marriage which may have been falling apart over a period of time. There are certain things which immediately come to mind that must be divided, such as bank accounts, equity in the house, retirement accounts, etc. However, there are also any number of easily-overlooked or hidden assets which should also be located, identified, and addressed by any separation or divorce papers.
How are Assets Typically "Hidden" in a Grey Divorce?
One of the benefits of having an experienced attorney who focuses exclusively in family law and divorce actions is that he can help you uncover, identify, and value these hidden assets so that you walk into your future with your share of the "true" marital estate - not just the portion your ex wanted you to know about. Some of the assets we've helped our clients find, value, and divide appropriately are listed here:
- Frequent flyer mileage
- Security deposits (e.g., utilities, car lease)
- Timeshare property
- Leased vehicles, cell phone, other items
- Stock options
- Memberships (e.g., country club)
- Bond or deposit for country club
- Unused vacation, sick leave
- Patents, copyrights, royalties
- Income tax refunds
- Income tax capital loss carry-forwards
- Income tax charitable contribution carry-forwards
- Special retirement benefits (“golden parachutes”)
- Retirement – life insurance, medical, and survivor benefits
- Hobby or other collections
- Affiliation “rewards” programs (e.g., points or discounts for credit card use)
- Entertainment tickets, season ticket options
- Business vehicle for personal use
- Prepaid rent, leases, subscriptions
- Burial Plots
- Life insurance cash surrender value (or perhaps death benefit if insured is elderly)
- Tort and worker's comp claims
- Stock options
- Hangar lease (for aircraft)
- Hotel or credit card points
- Cash / Gold Boullion / Precious Metals or Gems
- Small business retained earnings
- US Savings Bonds, other securities
- “Hidden value” items – rare items of personal property (e.g., antiques), rare pets, collectibles
- Options to purchase property
- Unpaid commissions on deals set to close
- Referral fees (e.g., for personal injury lawyers)
- Security or performance bonds posted
- Car insurance prepaid
- Taxes prepaid
How Will I Know if My Spouse is Hiding Assets From Me?
These are just a few of the ways spouses attempt to hide their financial means from an unsuspecting spouse. We see this most often in cases where one spouse works and the other stays home to raise the children or in cases where a professional owns a business or is a partner in a business and the spouse has no access to the business records. If you are faced with a "grey" divorce, make sure to protect what matters most for your new future by hiring an experienced family law team to guide you through the process and advocate for what is rightfully yours.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center and Senior Partner, Ben Stevens, has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule your initial consultation.