National Senior Citizen’s Day is celebrated on August 21st. Whether you’re a senior (retirement age) or a quinquagenarian (50-59), seeking a divorce in your older years has unique challenges. If you’re looking to ‘untie the knot’ as an older citizen, here’s what you need to know.
What is Senior Citizen’s Day About?
Do you have an elderly person in your life that you love and appreciate? National Senior Citizens Day is the day to let them know how much you care, and it’s an opportunity to recognize their accomplishments. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this holiday to raise awareness about issues that affect senior citizens and their quality of life.
What is a Gray Divorce?
Gray (or Grey) divorce is the rising phenomenon of older couples in long-term marriages getting divorced. It refers to a demographic trend that has increased the split or separation of older couples who have been married for a long time. The term began to be used in the United States in 2004, but the practice had already been prevalent for about 20 years. The consequences of getting divorced after 50 can be incredibly financially and emotionally impactful to older people and their families.
The Rise of Gray Divorce
Gray divorce refers to an increase in the separation of older couples who have been married for a long time. According to research published in the Journals of Gerontology, more than one in three people who divorce in the United States is older than 50. Researchers also predict that by 2030, the divorce rate for the gray divorce population will triple. This trend can be attributed to various factors, including changing societal norms, financial independence, and the desire to seek personal fulfillment in the later stages of life.
If you are facing a gray divorce, knowing your options is essential so you can begin a new chapter of life without worry. Let’s look further at some of the challenges of gray divorce and how you can embrace the change of a new beginning, no matter what stage of life you’re at.
Challenges Faced in Gray Divorce
Navigating a gray divorce presents a unique set of challenges for older adults. Not to mention the stress associated with divorce can impact physical and mental health.
The issue of spousal support (also known as alimony) may be a significant concern, and you may need to determine whether this form of support will be necessary, how much you may pay or receive, and how long these obligations will remain in effect. Other distinctive hurdles include dividing assets and trusts and the frightening scenario of telling your adult children (and potentially grandchildren) that you have decided to part ways after all these years.
So what causes gray divorce in the first place? Here are some of the most common factors for gray divorce:
- Addiction and Abuse: Addressing issues related to addiction or abuse can lead individuals to reevaluate their relationships and opt for separation.
- An Increased Desire for Happiness: As people age, pursuing personal happiness and fulfillment becomes more critical, potentially prompting them to seek new beginnings.
- Empty Nest Syndrome: Couples might reassess their dynamics when children leave home, leading to different paths.
- Infidelity: Infidelity can strain relationships irreparably, leading to the decision to part ways.
- Lack of Intimacy: Over time, couples might grapple with reduced intimacy, prompting them to seek a more fulfilling connection elsewhere.
- Financial Differences: Discrepancies in financial goals, spending habits, and values can cause couples to separate.
Legal Aspects of Gray Divorce
The first step of divorce is identifying which assets are part of your marital estate and which are pre-marital possessions. If you and your spouse have been together for several decades, memories of who owned what tend to blur together. Pre-marital assets can get mixed into marital assets, such as if your husband/wife used money in his/her pre-marriage savings account to buy your house after marriage.
The division of property can be complex. Assets to discuss with your family law attorney include:
- Health/Life Insurance Policies
- Property/Marital Home
- Social Security Benefits
- Retirement Benefits
Illinois is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning the court won’t divide marital property evenly. Rather than splitting everything 50/50, they look at each party’s current situation and future needs.
Work With an Experienced Divorce Attorney
At a minimum, you need a divorce lawyer to help you navigate the gray divorce process. Masters Law Group recognizes that gray divorce brings its own set of challenges and stress, and our clients seek a path toward a fresh chapter in their lives. With this in mind, we navigate settlement negotiations and mediation while keeping our clients’ well-being in mind.
Whether you’re venturing on a contested gray divorce, uncontested gray divorce, or gray civil union separation, our team of attorneys is positioned to advocate for your best interests when it matters most. In cases involving substantial assets, our experience shows. Masters Law Group excels in pinpointing and evaluating investments and wealth, spanning real estate, retirement funds, pension plans, crypto assets, domestic and foreign tax arrangements, stock options, trusts, and other tangible or potential sources of wealth.
Life doesn’t come with an expiration date, nor does our capacity for change. As we observe Senior Citizen’s Day, we must recognize the challenges of navigating gray divorce. Seniors going through a divorce should prioritize self-care, engage in physical activities, maintain regular medical check-ups, and have the support of an experienced legal team.
At Masters Law Group, we understand there are many moving parts to divorce, and we are here to help you every step of the way. Our dedicated attorneys are ready to skillfully advocate for your position and provide your voice when you need it most. Servicing Cook, Will, Lake, and Dupage counties, our attorneys can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.