My Big Fat Gray Divorce

Nia Vardalos has filed for divorce from husband Ian Gomez. Her 1993 nuptials inspired the hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” and the marriage lasted for nearly 25 years. Nia’s is another example of the recent phenomenon of “gray divorce.”

Not Zorba the Greek

As PEOPLE magazine reports, after the couple’s 1993 wedding, Vardolos wrote the one-woman play “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” partially based on her own experiences. She starred in the 2002 hit movie playing Toula Portokalos, who falls in love with non-Greek Ian Miller. Gomez played Corbett’s best man, Mike.

The actress, 55, filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles County, citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for their split, according to court documents obtained by The Blast.

Vardalos said she separated from her husband over a year ago on June 29, 2017, almost 24 years after they said, “I Do.”

Florida Gray Divorce

I’ve written about gray divorces before. The legal nuances of gray divorce can be different than what other couples might encounter. In a gray divorce, the financial considerations take on more importance than the children’s issues – because the children are emancipated or nearly so.

When couples choose to divorce in their 30s or 40s, they still have time to recover financially, because adults at that age have several years, if not decades, left in their careers.

But when divorce occurs when a couple is in their 50s or later, the so-called “gray divorce”, careers may either be coming to a close or are completed, and spouses are often living on fixed incomes provided through Social Security or retirement benefits.

Here are some things to consider:

  • By the time a couple enters the golden years, there may be gold to divide, including businesses, retirement funds, and vacation homes. Valuing these assets can be difficult. A financial advisor may be an important component in the divorce.
  • Health insurance is often tied to the employment of a spouse. Courts may need to intervene if one party has dwindling capacity to handle their own affairs.
  • Wills and trusts need to be reviewed to make sure they reflect post-divorce wishes. The same is true for long-term care, such as medical directives, living wills and trusts.
  • Retirement plans can be substantial and complex. Retirement plans vary, and they all have different restrictions, tax consequences, distribution and vesting rules.

There are special concerns involved in a gray divorce. As always, information is power, so make a point to seek out experts for guidance.

Most gray divorces involve marriages that have lasted for several decades, which makes it difficult to disentangle the spouses from each other. However, couples who divorce after many years together should receive a close-to-even split of assets, legally putting each spouse on an equal playing field for the future.

A Woman’s Way

In a joint statement obtained by PEOPLE, the couple said:

“We’ve been respectfully separated for a lengthy period of time. Our relationship became a friendship so the decision to end the marriage is completely mutual and amicable. It is our hope that decency will prevail on the reporting of this story which will soon be yesterday’s news. Thank you for respecting our privacy.”

Unlike many gray divorces, the couple share an 11-year-old daughter whom they adopted in 2008. She is asking for joint legal and physical custody of their daughter. The actress also asked that spousal support to be “determined in mediation.”

She and Gomez received the news that they had been matched with their then 3-year-old daughter in 2008 after more than nine years of struggling to become parents.

The PEOPLE article is here.