A generation ago, divorce over age 55 was practically unheard of. Many couples in this age bracket drifted apart and lived separate lives, sometimes even in separate households. The d-word was almost never a factor. However, the grey divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s.
Rising life expectancy has a lot to do with the increase. 20 or 30 years is a long time to live in an empty marriage. In other cases, divorce is simply more acceptable, from a moral standpoint, than it was a few decades ago.
Grey divorce presents some unique issues for Rolling Meadows divorce lawyers. Property division is more complex, usually because these couples have significant financial assets. Some people are surprised that emotional issues, such as child custody, are often an issue, as well.
Marital Property Splits
In grey divorces, both the classification and division processes are much more complex than they are for younger people. That is especially true if one spouse has been married before, which is usually the case, and there is no premarital agreement, which is also usually the case.
Over time, marital and nonmarital assets and obligations become commingled. For example, the Husband might liquidate some stock he bought before the marriage (his nonmarital asset) to improve a rental house that Wife owned before the marriage (her nonmarital asset).
The house has now become commingled. Depending on the facts, the house could be Wife’s nonmarital property, Husband’s nonmarital property, or marital property subject to equitable division. The same thing applies to current and future rental income.
Similar questions usually surround the marital residence. This property is clearly subject to equitable division, at least in most cases, but the mechanism could be a problem.
Frequently, it is best to sell the house and divide the proceeds. That provides a clean break for everyone. But perhaps the market is depressed, Husband and Wife cannot agree on a price, or there are other such circumstances.
An owelty partition lien might be the solution in these cases. One spouse remains in the house and the other spouse receives a lien for his or her equity share. Then, when the occupying spouse sells the home, that lien must be paid. Frequently, Rolling Meadows divorce attorneys insert triggering language in the decree. For example, the order might state that the Wife stays in the house until she remarries at which time it should be sold.
Parenting Time Issues
Most couples over 55 do not have minor children at home. However, many such couples have adult children and grandchildren. Commonly, adult children “blame” one of their parents for the divorce. If that happens, they might retaliate by cutting off grandchild/grandparent contact.
Illinois has a rather broad grandparent visitation law. To obtain court-ordered parenting time, grandparents must normally only show that contact is limited or nonexistent, and at least a few of the following factors exist:
- Child expressed a desire to spend time with grandparents,
- Grandparents are in reasonably good physical and mental shape,
- Grandchild and grandparents had a close relationship prior to the divorce,
- The grandparents were more than just babysitters,
- Grandparents’ motive for requesting visitation, and
- Parents’ motive for denying visitation.
A grand[parent’s case is even stronger if regular grandparent/grandchild visitations lasted at least 12 months or the grandparent was the child’s primary caretaker for at least six months.
Work With an Experienced Lawyer
Grey divorces involve some unique marriage dissolution issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Rolling Meadows divorce attorney, contact the Delaney Heckman We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.