People 50 and older are the only age group in the U.S. for whom the divorce rate has increased in recent years. Divorce researchers use the term “gray divorce” to categorize older couples who divorce after decades of marriage. There are several theories for why a couple may divorce at this stage in their lives:
- Empty nesters and retirees no longer have children or careers to distract them from their relationship;
- The couple may have married because it was expected rather than because they were compatible;
- A midlife crisis can make people anxious to create a more satisfying life while they can still enjoy it; and
- People can change after decades of marriage.
Whatever the reason is for ending the marriage, gray divorce can be complicated for everyone involved.
Division of Property
Spouses who have been married for decades will have accumulated numerous marital properties that they must divide in the divorce. They are also more likely to have high-value assets that they were able to purchase after years of saving money. Retirement plans have unique importance during a gray divorce. Each spouse will soon be relying on his or her retirement benefits, which have had time to accrue great value. In most cases, either the whole retirement plan is marital property or the amount that it increased in value since the spouses were married. Spouses must determine how much of the retirement money that they want to protect and what they would give up in exchange.
Someone who has financially relied on his or her spouse throughout their marriage will continue to need support after a divorce. Illinois determines the duration that someone must pay spousal maintenance based on the length of the marriage. A court can award permanent maintenance if the spouses were married for more than 20 years, which is the case in many gray divorces. The maintenance recipient is unlikely to become financially independent because it is more difficult to start a new career or find a better paying job when he or she is nearing the age of retirement.
Contact a Batavia Divorce Attorney
Gray divorce will be emotionally traumatic for you and your family because it is a sudden change to the life you were accustomed to. You will need guidance in making decisions that will set you up for financial stability during your golden years. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you secure key marital assets during your divorce negotiations. To schedule a consultation, call 630-879-9090.