Love can fade over time. After decades of marital happiness, you and your spouse may agree it is time to part ways through a “gray divorce.” 

You grew apart over the years. No one is at fault. Even if the breakup is amicable, figuring out how to divide your marital assets is a formidable task. 

All is not fair 

Do not expect an even 50-50 split of your assets. Divorce is not that simple, especially following a long marriage. Instead, think “equitable distribution” — what the court sees as fair. What the court deems fair and what you see as fair are often different. 

A gray divorce is complex because you and your spouse accumulated many assets over time. You made investments. You bought and sold properties. One or both of you may have received stock options, bonuses and other job perks. You have to investigate and document every penny. 

Fairness comes in dollars and sense 

You also have to consider your future when considering marital assets. What impact will Social Security benefits have on your divorce settlement? How about an insurance policy? 

The biggest asset in play is your 401(k) retirement account. After decades of contributions, your account is likely quite sizeable. Yet the rules vary from plan to plan, as they do with pension accounts. 

On a personal level, you and your spouse have many belongings of sentimental value. Some have little monetary value, such as family heirlooms. Others can be valuable, such as jewelry. Some spouses will use sentimental property as bargaining chips during negotiations. The talks can be difficult because you do not want a judge making such decisions. 

You deserve your share of the marital assets. What you need is a sound strategy to protect your rights. 

Be fair to yourself 

You and your spouse made many decisions over the course of your marriage. Many were personal, while some were financial. 

Now is the time to set aside your feelings. Treat your gray divorce like a business transaction to secure your financial future.