The common perception is that couples who are older and have weathered decades of ups and downs in their relationship will stay together forever. Of course, this is not always the case, and older couples do get divorced, even after 30 or more years of marriage. In fact, divorce among spouses over the age of 50 (known as “gray divorce”) has doubled since the 1990s, meaning more people approaching or in retirement must make major life changes.
Divorce between older couples may be more amicable, but different financial considerations come into play that need to be addressed. Regardless of the length of a marriage, spouses are required to divide marital assets and debts. However, older couples have less time to recover from the financial consequences of dividing everything by half, and they often have more complicated asset portfolios to distribute. Importantly, property division is rarely, if ever, revised by the courts after a divorce has been finalized, so getting it right the first time is crucial.
General Property Division Concerns
Illinois follows the equitable distribution model for property division in divorce that means marital property is divided according to what is fair, rather than strictly down the middle. Marital property includes anything acquired by either spouse during the marriage, as well as certain commingled marital and non-marital assets....
One event that has reverberating and long-term effects on an individual’s ability to implement and maintain a viable plan for retirement is divorce. Divorce is one of the single most financially damaging events a person may experience. In order to mitigate the negative consequences, one needs to understand how retirement benefits fit within the division of property generally and the specific rules that govern how Courts may treat these benefits. Dividing retirement benefits is frequently much more complicated than other assets because of the numerous laws and regulations that control when and how they may be transferred and accessed.
Property Division Generally
Illinois, like many other states, follows a standard for dividing property in divorce called equitable division. This standard requires all marital property to be distributed according to what is most fair under the circumstances. Hence, not all divorces will result in an equal split of assets and liabilities....