You may be surprised to learn that although the overall divorce rate is declining in the United States, divorce among spouses over age 50 has dramatically increased. Research shows that the rate at which older adults get divorced in this country has doubled since the 1990s. This may be due to increasing life spans, a reduction in the stigma associated with divorce, or simply because older adults want to enjoy their retirement years on their own terms. Whatever the reason, if you are over age 50 and considering a so-called “gray divorce,” you should know that it may involve unique challenges and obstacles. It is very possible that either you or your spouse will be entitled to spousal support payments. For help with maintenance-related concerns and much more, speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Spousal Maintenance in Illinois

Spousal maintenance, also known as spousal support or alimony, refers to financial payments that a higher-earning spouse makes to the lesser-earning spouse after divorce. While it is not appropriate in every situation, it may be necessary in a gray divorce, especially if one spouse has been out of the workforce for many years and would struggle to support themselves without assistance from their former partner. 

There are two main ways that a spouse can receive spousal support during an Illinois divorce: via a prenuptial agreement or through a court order. If you do not already have a prenuptial agreement or other valid marital agreement that specifies whether spousal support will be paid, the only way you or your spouse will be awarded spousal maintenance is by petitioning the court for a spousal support order. Illinois courts weigh several different factors when deciding whether to award spousal support, including but not limited to the following:

  • The standard of living throughout the marriage

  • The length of the marriage

  • Each spouse’s income and property, including retirement or disability income

  • The needs of each spouse

  • Each spouse’s present and future earning capacity

  • The health and age of both spouses

  • Contributions that one spouse made to the advancement of the other spouse’s education or career

Spousal maintenance is most often awarded when one spouse has sacrificed professional or educational opportunities, such as by working as a homemaker or parent. Maintenance may also be appropriate when one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other. If spousal maintenance is awarded, statutory guidelines typically determine the amount and duration of maintenance payments. Usually, the longer a couple was married before getting divorced, the longer spousal maintenance payments will last. When a divorcing couple has been married for 20 years or longer, the court may award maintenance payments that last a length of time equal to the duration of the marriage. In some cases, permanent maintenance may even be awarded, depending on the circumstances of each spouse.

Spouses who are over the age of 50 may also be concerned about how spousal maintenance may affect retirement. A lower-earning spouse may worry that their former partner will retire early in order to reduce the income the earn and the amount of support they would be required to pay. On the other hand, a spouse who is required to pay maintenance may feel that they will need to delay retirement, or they may worry about their ability to support both themselves and their former partner after retiring. Our attorneys can help you understand how to address these concerns during divorce, and we can also work with you to determine how your divorce will affect other related financial issues, such as eligibility for Social Security benefits, Medicare, or Medicaid.

Contact a Hinsdale Divorce Attorney

If you are over age 50 and plan to divorce, it is possible that your divorce case may be much more complicated than a divorce involving someone younger. This is why it is so important for anyone entering into a “gray divorce” to seek high-quality legal guidance from an experienced divorce attorney. Depending on your situation, you may be awarded spousal support payments, or you may be ordered to pay them. Schedule a confidential consultation with an accomplished Cook County spousal maintenance lawyer by calling Botti Marinaccio LTD. today at 630-575-8585.



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