Although the overall divorce rate is still high, it has declined significantly in recent years. The over-50 divorce rate has trended the opposite way. Marriage dissolution matters in this age range have doubled over the last two decades. All divorces usually involve significant emotional and financial issues. Gray divorces have some unique issues in this area. Since these are uncharted waters for most over-50 couples, these issues require even more awareness and preparation.
A Rolling Meadows family law attorney is uniquely qualified to handle these emotional and financial matters. We begin each gray divorce case and each divorce case with a thorough talk. We want to know your situation and your goals before we suggest a plan of action. Then, as the case progresses, we continually stand up for your legal and financial rights while, at the same time, we try to amicably resolve these matters out of court.
Consider Your Options
Even though they may be grown and gone, older couples must still think of the children in these situations.
Adult children are much less emotionally resilient than young children. Additionally, adult children have a lifetime of happy family memories to deal with, and young children may only remember a Christmas or two.
The emotional fallout is often significant and unexpected. Many adult children “blame” the mother or father for the divorce. As a result, they often retaliate by severing emotional ties between themselves and their parents or their children and their grandparents.
A legal separation could be an option in these situations. This provision of Illinois law is loosely based on the informal “Irish divorce” that was once an option for feuding older couples. Although Husband and Wife remain legally married, the judge divides property and, if appropriate, determines child and spousal support obligations. For the record, Irish voters legalized divorce in this staunchly Catholic nation in the 1990s.
Legal separation often provides some additional emotional stability while setting new ground rules. Usually, however, the spouses want clean breaks. In these cases, a cathartic pre-divorce last hurrah, like a holiday party, family reunion, or camping trip, might be a good idea. These episodes often allow people to turn the page more easily.
Prepare for Property Division
The average length of a marriage which ends in divorce is a little over seven years. These marriages often involve small marital estates. When a twenty-plus year marriage dissolves, the estate is often quite large, especially in terms of retirement account balance and home equity amount.
Selling the house and dividing the proceeds is the cleanest option, but not always the best one. Many people over 50 still have minor children at home. Alternatively, the market might be depressed. In either case, it is usually a bad time to sell a house.
An owelty partition lien could fit the bill in these situations. One spouse takes title to the house, and the other spouse obtains a lien for his/her share of the equity at the time of divorce. Later, when the owner spouse sells the house, the lien must be paid with interest. To ensure proper and timely division, divorce decrees often contain mandatory sales provisions (e.g., the owner spouse must sell the house within eighteen months).
401(k)s, IRAs, and other nest egg accounts often have more than a significant financial value. They have a significant emotional value as well. Financially, different benefit plans have different rules regarding the division of an account balance. Emotionally, if one spouse is determined to hold onto a greater share of this account, an offset is usually available (e.g., I’ll pay more alimony if I get to keep the IRA).
Contact a Diligent Cook County Attorney
Various legal solutions are available for your changing family. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Rolling Meadows, contact Delaney Heckman, Ltd. After-hours and virtual visits are available.