Episode 34 - The Multi-Faceted Diamond Divorce
Welcome to the top Texas Lawyers podcast. This podcast is brought to you by the law firm Abercrombie and Sanchez PLLC.
Your hosts are Bryan Abercrombie and Samuel Sanchez. Bryan has been practicing law for 18 years and his board certified that sort of legal specialization in the area of family law. Sam has been practicing for 13 years, is licensed in both Texas and Florida, and is a certified mediator. This podcast is for informational purposes only and all views are the opinion of the hosts. It's not designed to provide legal advice for your particular legal matter, and it should not replace the advice of competent counsel. Welcome. And we hope you enjoy the top Texas Lawyers podcast.
Good morning and welcome to the Top Texas Lawyers Podcast. I'm your host, Bryan Abercrombie, and with me, as always, is my co-host or the Host Supreme, the one you really want to hear, Sam Sanchez. Sam, how are you doing?
I'm doing well. Salt and pepper to your steak, right?
You are. They know you're more than just the salt and pepper. You're the the rub, the A1 steak sauce, whatever the case may be that makes it good.
Like it. I like it.
Hot plate if we're going to Ruth's Chris.
Yeah. The sizzle to your steak.
So, anyway, how you been? How are things?
Not too bad. Not too bad. You know it's nice coming out of this COVID pandemic. I got vaccinated. So I feel like I'm legal beagle, you know, looking for my dog tags. I could wear it around, you know, a little bit. Everybody knows, yeah, it feels good to have the antibodies or whatever. They are talking about it, so they can track the tag. They released me back out into the wild with my tag.
I'm just I was tired of wearing the mask, you know, decided to go get the vaccine. Now, it knocked me around for a little bit, but, you know, if it means you can travel, if it means you can start doing the stuff we normally do, I'd happily get poked in the arm.
OK, so we we got new intro music. Yeah. Let's talk about the intro music because it's very near and dear to your heart. So you tell us about it.
Sure. So the band is Crush Bouquet. My son is a part of that band. Helped write the lyrics. Lead guitar is pretty phenomenal. So in that way, yeah, they've got a great album. It's out on Bandcamp or anywhere you can download music, so check them out.
OK, definitely check them out. They're coming. We're going to say we knew him when.
That's all right. We'll be right there, and we'll be going into the contracts for sure.
So anyway, so our topic de jour of the day is the gray divorce or the silver divorce or the silver splitter or the diamond divorce.
I've seen a number of different things that this is called diamond divorce is my favorite. It's pretty good.
Silver splitter. I like that one. Splitter is good too.
Diamond divorce, silver splitter - sounds like they should be plays in a baseball game. Signs coming in from the catcher. I'm going to throw you two fingers. So we're talking silver splitters, and the celebrity couple divorce of the week is I think is a silver splitter. So it's on topic.
It's a diamond divorce. It's a very, very diamond divorce.
It's a major diamond divorce between Bill and Melinda Gates. They're calling it quits after twenty seven years of marriage. So, yes, that's a lot of money there.
Yes. And, you know, we told them we would probably have to pass on their case this time just because, you know, we're so closely tied to them and the foundation. But we know they're going to get good representation.
That's seriously a lot of money involved in that one.
Yeah, a lot of money. And the further you go into twenty seven years in a long-term marriage like that, you're getting up into your 60s or 70s. We've got multiple those types of clients who've accumulated their entire lives. You talk about estate plans, you talk about businesses, you talk about corporations, partnerships, stocks, investments, retirements, real property. Just so much stuff gets wrapped up in those. And when you talk about a mega divorce like Jeff Bezos, obviously that was huge. But they're still fairly young. I mean, you're talking about Bill Gates. You know, they're at the top of their careers.
So, you know, that's something that we're seeing more and more.
So, just a little statistics on this. These are from 2015. There's about ten out of every thousand people are over the age of 50 getting divorced, which doesn't sound like a high number, but it's double what that number was in 1990. So in the past twenty years it's gone up, doubled the rate of people getting divorced. You know, they say the number could be as high as one in four are divorced. So if it's at 25% now that's not taking into account people that may have gotten married after the age of 50 because a lot of people are doing that. But they're saying basically the rate for older adults getting divorced is double what it was just twenty years ago.
And not only that, but, you know, with modern medicine and obviously, you know, the way we're all eating, they said most people will live, you know, a solid 30 to 40 years after they turn 50. So if you think about, you're like, hey, we got married in our twenties. I mean, those types of marriages that last the full duration of someone's lifespan are very, very rare. And as they see more and more divorced people on the survey, they're talking to people about what causes these divorces. And tell me where you've heard this before. Cited as one of the number one reasons: infidelity, so shockingly over the age of 50, infidelity is number one. Also, there's financial reasons and regrets about life decisions mainly and wanting greater independence. So those reasons. What demographic doesn't fit into those reasons? Is that why everyone's getting a divorce?
Right? I think that's pretty much everybody. At least that's from what we hear.
Right. People under 50 pretty much have those exact same reasons for wanting to split. But, over 50, you're talking about more discretionary income typically at that point in life. So if you look at it and you say, I've worked my whole life and now the kids are gone and I'm home and we've got all this stuff, and who are you?? Who's the person who's next to me? And she wants to go to the country club and you want to ride on your motorcycle, right? Well, there's not a lot of crossing ships in the night. And a lot of times people are just like, hey, I've still got good years left in me, and I don't want to spend it this way. So, yeah, and over half of the grey divorces are people that have been married over 20 years. So, you know, maybe they're just literally sick of that other person. It took me 25 years, but I'm finally sick of it. But, you know, I mean, another high profile diamond divorce is Al Gore. Al and Tipper Gore is a big one.
Well he invented the Internet...
That's right. Right, right... So, yeah, it's a bigger deal now than it used to be. And there's, you know, the the concerns for people that are going through this that, of course, you know, if the kids are out of the house, I mean, a lot of times there's not a lot of custody issues involved here. There might be a guardianship issue or something like that if you have a disabled child or something like that, like special needs. But the biggest thing is going to be that financial piece. This is the stage in life where a lot of people have accumulated a lot of wealth. I mean, you're oftentimes talking about millions of dollars in retirement on the table and things and, you know, half a million to a million dollars in house equity.
Sure, sure. And not only that, but, you know, honestly, at this age we talk a lot of estate planning and probate work, too. So in that scenario, you've, like, worked your whole life. You've got this together. You figured out how you're going to pass it on to the next generation of your family and now you're going to go through a divorce. So that mad scramble is everything. On top of that, you layer that when you get into the older years, you're going to have more health concerns. And one of those is obviously people struggling with Alzheimer's. And so you do have some capacity issues. So when you mentioned guardianship, these are things that, as you're sitting down looking across the table at your spouse and you're like, hey, she's got tremendous health issues or he has tremendous health issues or their memory is slipping. I mean, these are all things that are going to be considerations for sure.
What if one person's spry and healthy at seventy five and the other person's, you know, ready for the home due to dementia or some other diminished capacity issue? I mean I'm not making a moral judgment or anything like that, but that's a tough situation to be in, you know.
Oh yeah. Yeah. Because you're like hey you know what, I want to go live my life. She can't live with me or he can't live with me. He's incapacitated. But can I get a divorce? Well, maybe you have to get a guardianship first. You know, there's a lot of complexity in these these diamond divorces or silver splitters that aren't really things that typically are going to happen in the younger individuals' divorce. I mean, we kind of look through it. While you may have those capacity situations, they're not they're not as prevalent. And they're saying that the divorce rate, there's a lot of a lot of couples that are getting divorced after 20 years and then they're getting remarried and they're saying that the divorce rate is two and a half times higher for couples that are that are remarried after they're over the age of 50 than first marriages. So I guess they figure, hey, I pulled that trigger once before...
I mean, then I guess there's less to divide up because, in that situation, you're coming into a marriage with a whole bunch of separate property. There's their separate property, your separate property. And that's when a prenuptial agreement, premarital agreement comes in. And it becomes a bigger deal, because if you've got something to lose in that second marriage, you really want to try to protect yourself. But I think if you're in a position where you're having to contemplate one of these silver splitters or diamond divorces, I think you really, really need to sit down and, you know, kind of map out your life for lack of a better word. And what kind of assets are you going to need going into later life? What do you want your life to look like? What resources are you going to need to support that lifestyle? You know you don't want to be divorced and in the poorhouse. So that's you know, that's something to really, really need to consider.
Not only that, but obviously, one of the other pieces of it is that when you look at going through this process later in life, you know, it's much more complicated to rebuild that wealth.
So, like we always tell younger clients as you come through there, well, you know what? Look, let's not get hung up in the details of dollars because you've got a great career. You're at the inception of a great career in the middle of a great career. You're going to be able to recoup a lot of the wealth that may be through the division you lose. When you talk about a retiree, your money is what you've made. Maybe it's making money for itself, but even then, it's usually not at the capacity at which you were earning. When you were gainfully employed at a much younger age, you can recoup some of that. And so that really makes it complicated, not only emotionally, because, you know, we always talk about, Bryan, the two things that clients are going to get pissed off about.
When they go through this process, you're messing with something that's going to piss them off -- mess with their family, mess with their money, and in this scenario, do every divorce, but especially in this one, you know, as you're older, you're set in many ways when you're looking at your financial picture.
You're like, I've worked my whole life to get to this point. I don't want to give a dollar of it up. I want all of it because I worked for it. In a community property state like Texas or Florida, it's not "your" money. It's "our" money. You know, it's all within the community. And so that's something that people really have to come to grips with as they plan this out, because sometimes there's creative solutions.
You might look at something like a partition agreement. So if you say, hey, look, we don't want to divide up our stuff because we don't want to really split these assets because they work well as it is. So let's just take the gates as an example. We have this foundation. We've got billions of dollars sitting there. Do we have to split it up? Technically, no. You know, in most states, you can look at it and say, hey, you know what? We're going to enter into a financial arrangement, because at that point, marriage is really just a contract, the contract of how we're going to dispose of and share property. And so you can create all kinds of creative things that say maybe we don't want to get divorced at this age, but we do want to live separate lives and we don't want to have financial implications between one another.
So are we splitting it yet? Technically, yes, but in reality, no. So there's a lot of things that had these diamond divorces or silver splitters should consider as they're contemplating that, because there's a lot of creative things that an attorney can help walk you through that might be a good solution for you aside from a divorce, right?
And that's you know, that's that's a big deal. I mean, that's something we should talk a little bit about. If you have adult children, and you go into one of these grey divorces, how does a silver splitter impact that? You may be a grandparent, you know, doing grandparent things.
Yeah, it can be really traumatic for the whole family. Because if you think about it, by the time you get to this point, let's say you have a long term marriage, a twenty seven year marriage, you know, you've got children who are married, who have children, you have grandchildren. And all of a sudden, you know, grandpa and grandma are getting divorced now and we're having split Christmases. Or, you know, the family home is getting sold because everybody needs those resources to move forward. There's just so much tied up in a divorce anyways. But when you do it later in life, it really sends a very substantial shockwave through the entire family, regardless of the size of it.
And, you know, how do family events work at that point, you know? The barbecues can change a little bit. You know, Christmas changes for sure. You know, I'll tell you that I've done a lot of these divorces here recently, more and more, which is why we're having this conversation. But I will tell you that it seems like the couples that are going through this, you know, they both reach those points at about the same time. It doesn't seem to me that you get into these all-out, knock-down, drag-out fist fights in the courtroom between these individuals, because I think at that point, when you look at it and you say, hey, look, there's a finite amount of resources and I really want to maximize how I exit this relationship, you know, I think people are much more apt to kind of be sensible, try to apply business sense to a very emotional situation.
Absolutely. And then, you know, there's support issues. Sometimes if one one spouse is still working and the other one's not, there could be support issues. And then you've got to be very cognizant of that. You've got to be very cognizant of what you're getting out of the divorce and how that support issue could impact that. So if one person is years away from retirement, one person already retired, those those kinds of things have an impact.
Even if they're high wage earners, you know. You were a high wage earner in life, but now you're retired. And so you're like, hey, we're drawing the benefits of that hard work and the fruits of my labor through life. But now my spouse is a teacher. I'm retired, and she is like, hey, I need a divorce, spousal maintenance. Or flip it., he needs support because she's retired. She had this great company and made a bazillion widgets in those situations. It's really complicated for courts because courts look at it and they have to say, OK, well, while there's a substantial amount of resources, they're finite and they're not replicable, at least not as easily replicable over years. Because if you're 72 and 74 and you're getting divorced, you know, you're at the tail end of your lifespan very likely.
It doesn't mean you couldn't live to 102 or 105, people do it all the time, more and more regularly. So how does that wealth, if it's not going to be drawing Social Security or maybe a pension, which are very rare in this day and age, what do those funds look like and how do we deal with that? So courts are really dealing with very complicated long term issues for individuals that you didn't used to hear about.
You know, I mean, think back, I remember when I was a kid, like, they would say, like, gosh, you know, they may hate each other, but they're married for life. They're stuck with each other. And grey divorces didn't happen when we were kids. But now more and more people are like, hey, I still got a whole lot of years left to live and the capacity to live it. And so I really I want to make the most of that. And then one thing that's really important, I think, is to sit down with your attorney and really map out a game plan, because you want to maximize the efficient use of the dollars you're spending on the lawyer. You don't need to have the $50,000 or $100,000 divorce trial, in most cases. If you're valuing complex assets, that's one thing, but it's probably best to sit down with competent counsel and map everything out, get proper valuations on everything. If there's a personal business, get it evaluated, whatever it is, get evaluated and get it taken care of so you're making a decision armed with all the facts. And that's the biggest the biggest situation.
I mean, there's so much more, so many more property issues on the table for people that are nearing retirement. And, look, if you get divorced to 50 or 60, you could live 30 years more. I mean, you could live 30 or 35, 40 years even. It's not unheard of in this day and age. So you're really going to have to make sure that you've got a plan together, whether it be with insurance, health insurance, with, you know, retirement funds, with where you're going to live -- because the old way of growing old is an antiquated way. The old way just isn't really the way anymore. It used to be you work all your life, you buy a house, you pay it off, you retire, you got your pension, you got your retirement. And if you live in your house, you do so until you're called home to the pearly gates. You get Medicare at or whatever at 65, and you move on down the road. But that's not necessarily the case anymore. So when it's not the case, you've really got to plan for those sorts of things. What kind of potential health concerns do you have? If you have high blood pressure, you're going to have to maybe account for that and you're going to have to maybe account for your long-term health and what does that cost?
Yeah, you know, I would tell you about considerations like insurance coverage. So as an example, if you weren't the breadwinner, if you were a stay at home spouse, and the other party is the one who draws the benefits, who has the pension, what does that look like? Because those benefits that you draw post divorce might not be the same as what he's drawing or she's drawing, you know, and some of them, you know, I have clients who have phenomenal retirement benefits for health insurance coverage. And so if you look at it and you're like, well, if I get divorced, do I get to keep that coverage? Well, sometimes maybe for a short period of time through COBRA, maybe that's 18 months. Maybe that's thirty six months, depending on the situation. But if you're talking about, hey, I'm I'm 62. I'm going to live to be 80 probably.
And this health insurance is really going to matter as opposed to Medicaid because it's phenomenal or it's a great supplement. I mean, these are all things that people are wrestling with that, you know, when you're 35, you're like, I'll get my own coverage. I'm not really worried about it. But when you talk about getting that insurance coverage, your insurance policy that's going to cover you with preexisting is when you're over the age of 60, over the age of 50, now you're paying some serious dollars. And if somebody is retired, you know, like when we're doing it before you retirement age guys and we're splitting up stuff, you know, dollars in retirement accounts are not the same as dollars in banking.
And so what you're talking about post-retirement dollars are dollars, right? Because you can take those without penalty, you know, just pay the taxes like you just made the money. So, you know, these are things that definitely complicate things. You definitely want competent counsel who understands the financial situation and the best way to navigate it for you and for the estate. And they're saying that nowadays, the baby boomer generation, which is our parents, currently 50% of baby boomers are single. And whether that's through spouses passing away or divorces, there's about a 50% single rate for baby boomers these days, which I feel like that's an incredibly high number.
That's crazy. That's insanely high. You know, I just heard that 1/3 of the non-singles are unmarried. So if, you know, if you're looking to date, then silverfoxes.com may be the place for you to go.
You know, like honestly, think about the businesses that have sprung up that didn't exist. I mean, there's entire travel companies that only let you travel if you're 55 or older. You know, dating sites. Yeah, there's communities. There's real property communities where you can only build in that community if you're over 50. Some of these are phenomenal places. You know, they have an amazing retirement, structured, planned out communities. And so, you know, these are the kinds of things that people are really having to wrestle with in a different way. So it's really kind of unique. I'm glad you brought up this topic because it's something that we're experiencing more and more. And I think it has its own kind of specific nuances and complexities. It's got its own set of challenges. I mean, it's a testament to where where we are, you know, health wise and medically wise, that people are living for so much longer. But, you know, along with that goes the unintended consequences of a longer lifespan.
And, you know, you may want to make changes in your life a little sooner than you might have otherwise. So one of the unintended consequences is, hey, if you don't like something at 50, there's still time to change it. So, yeah, I think everybody should understand that, you know, nothing is set in stone when it's actually when you're talking about, like marriage, no matter the age. I think the oldest that we've handled, I think maybe was 78. 78.
Actually, I had a 91 year old guy married to a 35 year old once.
Well that's a guy who likes a challenge. He likes to get wore out. Well that's that's why they have Viagra.
And he's like, I need a break brother. I got to get some time off...
No, I mean I think there's a lot of things, you know, medically that that help us live longer and, financially, people are making a lot of really smart decisions. And we talk about challenges, like there's cryptocurrency, there's a real property investments with the way the market is going that people are just turning serious, incredibly amazing amounts of profit and income through long term estates. And so when they do that, it can change their lives.
I always laugh as a side note, but you know how many times we've represented somebody who came in and they're like my my wife or my husband went in and had weight loss surgery and they turned into this their best version of themselves physically. And now suddenly they're like getting chased around by all these people. And so they're like, oh, hey, life is great. I want to try the new stuff out there. You know, I think the silver age group are kind of having that same scenario. They're tired of the same cereal and wouldn't mind the variety pack. And they're like, hey, I've been doing this for a while and, you know, it's time for another life. And really, if you think about it, you know, people run 40 years into something and then they're like, hey, I got another 40 in me. I want to do something.
There was a Vince Vaughn movie. I remember he was there selling like scooters to a retirement community. And they were talking about how much hooking up goes on in the retirement community. And I mean, if you think about it, it is you know, it's a joke. But I mean, it's kind of true because like you said, they have these great communities where a bunch of single people live over the age of 50 and they're all they're all in really good health. And, you know, they're like, we can't get pregnant. And we're all in pretty good health. So we get tested all the time. So free for all becomes available.
So how do they get in touch with you, Sam? If somebody wants to talk to you about divorce, family law, estate planning or probate, how do they get in touch with you?
Absolutely. I'm in the metroplex of Dallas Fort Worth area, also Miami, so you can reach me directly at 817-914-5470. You could email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can find us on our website at www.astxlegal.com.
And with me, I'm in Houston and the Woodlands area. You can reach me at 281-3374-4741 and my email is email@example.com. I'm also on the website, so reach out to us. We'll be happy to talk to you. And Sam, thanks for joining me today. We're going to keep kicking this thing around, and we'll have another topic for you next week.
Yeah, it looks great. Can't wait to talk to you, and we'll let the music take us out.
From Crash Bouquet!
All right. Let's have a good weekend.