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The unique challenges associated with gray divorce

Older couples are divorcing in unprecedented numbers, and they often face a different set of challenges than younger couples when ending a marriage.
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    February 13, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- The unique challenges associated with gray divorce

It is quite common to find people in Chicago who are divorced. According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, 19 out of every 1,000 marriages in the U.S. ended in divorce during the year 2011. While Illinois has a lower divorce-to-marriage ratio than some states, including Hawaii, North Dakota and Utah, many couples are deciding to call it quits. Now more than ever before, those couples tend to be older.

The gray divorce trend

According to the Miami Herald, the majority of divorces occurring today involve at least one spouse over the age of 50. A 2013 report by the NCFMR stated that one in every four marriages for this age group ended in divorce in 2010. In fact, the divorce rate in the U.S. among older adults has doubled since 1990 and is expected to continue increasing over the next several years.

The trend, which has been referred to as "gray divorce," has given rise to a great deal of speculation over its likely causes. Potential contributing factors may include:
-Longer lifespans.
-Growing financial independence among women.
-Increasing focus on marriage as a source of self-satisfaction and fulfillment.
-Greater social acceptance of divorce as a solution to an unhappy marriage.
-Changing views with regard to traditional gender roles.

Another factor that may be involved in the gray divorce phenomenon is the fact that people who remarry after a prior divorce are more likely to get divorced again if the marriage does not meet their needs. Because a relatively high proportion of older individuals are in second or third marriages, this could help explain the rising divorce rate among couples over 50.

Challenges for older people during divorce

While older adults may no longer have to make decisions about child custody and support, which can simplify the divorce process in some ways, they are likely to encounter their own unique set of divorce challenges. For example, because older couples have typically had more time to acquire assets than younger couples, division of marital property can be a more challenging process in this age group.

When it comes to dividing debts and assets during divorce, Illinois follows a system known equitable distribution, which means that a divorcing couple's marital property and debts may not necessarily be split equally between the spouses. Instead, a couple's shared property and debts will be divided according to a wide range of considerations, such as each spouse's health and ability to earn a living, as well as the contribution each spouse made to the marriage.

Splitting up retirement assets can be a particularly thorny task for couples who divorce after a long marriage, since it often means that a retirement plan designed to support a married couple will now have to support two people living separately. According to a USA Today report, the cost of retirement can be up to 30 percent higher for divorced individuals.

Other challenges facing many older couples during divorce include declining health and the need for ongoing financial support. If one spouse is ill or financially dependent on the other spouse, he or she may need spousal support to get by after the marriage ends.

When considering divorce, it is important for older individuals to look carefully at their financial circumstances and consider how best to protect their long-term interests. In such matters, it is often a good idea to talk things over with an experienced attorney who can provide insight and guidance during the complex process of divorce in Illinois.

Article provided by Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC
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