Palin Filing Highlights Gray Divorce Trend

Todd Palin recently filed for divorce from Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, after 31 years of marriage. It was another high-profile example of the trend of gray or boomer divorce.

In a document filed in Anchorage, Alaska, Superior Court, Todd Palin cited an “incompatibility of temperament” in his marriage to Sarah Palin “such that they find it impossible to continue to live together as husband and wife.” The divorce filing and court records used only initials to refer to the pair, with Todd Mitchell Palin listed as TMP and Sarah Louise Palin only identified as SLP.

Gray divorces are more common than ever before. A study from the National Center for Family and Marriage found that the U.S. divorce rate for couples age 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, and was even higher for those over 65. In fact, this age group is the only one with a divorce rate that is increasing.

The main concern of most people who divorce late in life is whether they will have enough money to live comfortably the rest of their lives. Divorce can drain the coffers of people in their 60s and 70s who may not have a way to rebuild their finances afterward.

Chances are the Palins have enough money for both of them to live separately and thrive. But in almost all gray divorces, issues involving money are the most important, including

  • Determine what is separate property and what is divisible as community property. Don’t give away assets your spouse may not be owed.
  • One party often thinks he or she can keep pension plans or other retirement accounts intact. In most cases, these plans are subject to division.
  • Inheritances usually are not subject to division unless they are co-mingled with other marital assets.
  • In Texas, divorcing parents are not required to pay for their children’s college education, but you can agree to that in the divorce settlement.
  • Since most gray divorces are about money, a party that owes money to the other party should have life insurance to cover those expenses. Life insurance is not required by law in this state, but you should have your attorney negotiate that.