While it is encouraging to know that the overall divorce rate in the US is at a 50-year low, a closer look at the data reveals a shocking trend. Recent US Census Bureau figures indicate that the dissolution of marriage rate is highest among individuals aged 55 to 64, a phenomenon familiarly known as “gray” divorce or “silver splitting.” If you are contemplating divorce after 50, you probably expect certain challenges with asset division and alimony. The length of the marriage, age of the parties, and many other factors impact these issues.
However, an Illinois gray divorce encompasses many other complexities that tend to be absent among younger couples. Protecting your interests is even more critical, which is why retaining a Chicago divorce attorney should be a priority. Though every case is different, many couples going through divorce after 50 will encounter unique issues, including:
Illinois divorce laws require equitable distribution of all marital assets, so all real estate and personal property acquired during the marriage must be divided fairly. Judges have considerable discretion in divvying up items between the parties. They look to numerous factors in making a decision, and a few are of particular concern for gray divorce:
- The length of the marriage.
- The parties’ respective ages.
- Education, income earning potential, and employability.
- Each spouse’s opportunity to acquire assets and income after divorce.
Alimony takes into account many of the same factors as asset division, and the details may also be based upon how the judge rules on distributing property. For divorcing parties over 50, income potential and employment opportunities will be key to spousal maintenance. The ability to obtain employment after an absence from working and wage earning potential decreases with age, making it more difficult for a lower-earning spouse to maintain a reasonably comfortable lifestyle.
Employment-related benefits may have been sufficient to provide for you both, but gray divorce means supporting two households. Therefore, half the income. Some parties may need to delay retirement or plan to set aside more. In addition, retirement benefits are usually considered marital property. Not only are these amounts subject to asset division, but they may also impact spousal support.
You should also consider the implications of how equitable distribution of assets may lead to early withdrawals, taxable events, and penalties. Note that you may need a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) when dividing retirement in divorce so that the plan administrator has the necessary details to pay out benefits.
Long-Term Considerations for Divorce After 50
Additional unique issues involved with gray divorce include:
- How to handle Social Security, including spousal benefits.
- Health insurance and Medicare.
- Long-term care and competency issues.
- Estate planning and making needed changes to your existing arrangement.
Overcome Challenges with Help from a Chicago Divorce Attorney
It is helpful to learn some of the unique issues that impact divorce after 50, but this overview should convince you that working with experienced legal counsel is essential. For more information, please call (312) 621-5234 to set up a consultation with Chicago divorce attorney Michael C. Craven. Once we review your circumstances, we can discuss strategies for gray divorce in Illinois.