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The Growing Issue of Elder Divorce

 Posted on May 17, 2017 in Divorce

Naperville divorce lawyerA trend that has become more apparent with each passing year in the last decade is the rising divorce rate for couples over the age of 55. The overall divorce rate in the United States has continued to drop over the last several years, after years of decline, but the rate for seniors has steadily increased. It is important to be able to spot the signs in your own marriage, and if divorce happens, to be able to adjust to it with minimal pain.

Statistics and Trends

The U.S. Census’ American Community Survey reports that since 1990, the so-called “gray divorce” rate has almost tripled, going from one in 10 to approximately 28 percent of recent divorcees being over the age of 55. Given that the nationwide trend has been to stay married, it is worth noting the significant uptick in older couples separating. This is especially true considering that divorce has been linked to potential health issues, financial strain, and other problems that can pose significant risks for those over a certain age.

The reasons for the spike in the divorce rate are as different as the couples themselves, but the primary culprit appears to be that people are simply living longer and that divorce has become more acceptable than it once was. Couples have more time to grow apart, and the data seems to suggest that, as with younger couples, it is mostly older women who initiate divorce proceedings against their surprised husbands. The status and autonomy of women have improved during the lifetimes of many of these wives, and it is perhaps understandable that many simply grow dissatisfied with their situation.

Procedures to Follow

In terms of legalities, there is very little that will differ between a young couple’s divorce and that of an elderly couple. The same proceedings take place, though there will likely be fewer family issues than for younger couples, who must often address parenting time and support questions. There are two primary financial trends that divorcing spouses should keep in mind, however, especially if your marriage has lasted longer than a decade.

The first is that Illinois courts put significant stock in the length of your marriage when determining matters of money and property, especially for issues such as spousal support. Statutory guidelines actually instruct judges to take the length of the marriage into account when calculating maintenance awards, so if your marriage lasted a long time, it may affect you financially. The second is that some assets, such as the marital home, may have a different value than they might have if divorce came earlier. They may also be worth more or less to each spouse. For example, if a wife is awarded the marital home, but not many other assets, it may cause her significant financial stress, given she may be retired but still responsible for property taxes, insurance, and other related expenses.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

Senior citizens face unique issues when divorcing, and it is important to seek responsible, trusted guidance. Contact a dedicated Naperville divorce attorney at Pesce Law Group, P.C., today. Call 630-352-2240 for a free, confidential consultation.


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