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....
While experts and researchers tend to disagree on the exact rate of divorce in the United States today, they are in agreement on one issue: the rate of divorce for couples over the age of 50 is on the rise. According to a recent Forbes article, the rate of “gray divorces” has actually doubled over the 20-year period from 1990 to 2010. These divorces tend to involve couples who have been married for many years, which can create huge financial changes for both parties. However, women, in these divorces, tend to suffer most.
How Your Age Impacts Your Divorce
The reality is that when divorce occurs later in life, the impact on your finances is larger. Once you reach retirement age, you are likely to be living on a fixed income, perhaps from Social Security benefits and pension or other retirement benefits. When you abruptly go from two sources of income to one, your budget and expenses will necessarily change. This is usually not a positive change, especially for the woman, who statistically is likely to have had less income over her lifetime than the man. This can cause the woman’s retirement benefits to be substantially less than her husband’s benefits. Women may be able to draw Social Security benefits from their spouses’ earning records, even following divorce, in some situations. However, that source of income is not a guarantee and is not available to all women at the time that they may need it the most....