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Naperville IL divorce lawyerDivorce is one of the most difficult life events an individual or family can face, and being older and more financially entangled can add significant challenges to the process. The decision to get divorced after 50 should only be made after serious consideration, and people commonly feel some hesitation about what to do and when to do it. Fortunately, there are attorneys experienced in divorce among older couples, and there are things you can do yourself to prepare for divorce and make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Consider Mediation or Collaborative Divorce

Fewer divorce cases go to court than in the past–and for good reason. Spouses who use mediation or a collaborative divorce process often have smoother divorces, and both parties can save time and money. There is more independent decision-making, and the formality and hassle of court proceedings can be avoided. However, collaborative divorce is often insufficient for divorces involving complex financial situations or significant assets, especially if one person controls the finances and the other may be unaware of the couple’s full financial picture.

Think Carefully About Finances

One of the most important and complex aspects of divorce after 50 is the divorcing couple’s financial picture. Spouses who are divorcing at older ages can have decades of commingled bank accounts, multiple homes, retirement funds, and Social Security benefits to work through.

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Kane County gray divorce attorneyOne of the biggest myths surrounding a gray divorce is that the divorce will not affect the adult children of the divorcing couple. A gray divorce, or one that takes place after the age of 50, has the potential to affect everyone in the family. Even though you may not have to deal with issues like child support and parenting time, your adult children can take the news of your divorce just as harshly as young children would. Most divorcing couples with adult children do not factor them into the divorce equation at all. While they are farther removed from the situation than a minor child would be, there are still things that you should do to protect your adult children during your gray divorce.

Understand that Your Adult Children Will Grieve the Divorce

Many people feel as if their adult children will not feel the effects of the divorce; however, that is simply not true. Even when your children are adults, a divorce can affect their lives. The dynamics of the family that they know and grew up with are changing while the world around them is telling them that they should not be affected by their parents’ issues. A sense of isolation is common for adult children of divorce, as they feel like they are unable to talk to anyone about how they are feeling. Encouraging your children to talk to you about how they feel toward the divorce can help them cope with their feelings.

Adult Children Often Feel Stuck in Between Parents

When children and parents are both adults, the relationship often changes. Rather than the parent-child relationship during their childhood, it becomes more of a friendship during your child’s adult years. This can often lead to parents oversharing during a divorce. Even though your child is an adult and has the capacity to understand all of your issues, that does not mean they need or want to hear about them. Even adults deserve to be able to maintain relationships with their parents without the influence of events that happened between their parents.

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DuPage County gray divorce lawyerThe divorce rate in America has long been a topic of interest, and in recent years, attention has turned to divorces involving Americans who are over the age of 50. While the overall divorce rate has been decreasing, the divorce rate for those who are age 50 and older has actually been increasing, according to the Pew Research Center. Since 1990, the divorce rate for adults aged 50 and older has doubled. When looking at just adults who are 65 and older, the divorce rate has nearly tripled since 1990. Researchers have speculated several reasons as to why the divorce rate is undergoing such an increase for couples in their golden years.

Older Americans Are More Likely to Be in a Second or Third Marriage

According to data from Pew, many adults in the Baby Boomer generation experienced divorce in their young adult lives back in the late 1970s and 1980s. Like many divorced people, a large number of Baby Boomers eventually remarried. Unfortunately, statistics show that second and third marriages tend to be much less stable and have a higher chance of divorce. Research shows that 48 percent of adults over the age of 50 who divorced in 2015 were in their second or subsequent marriage.

More Women Are in the Workplace Than Ever Before

Another reason that has been pointed out as potentially contributing to the higher divorce rate is women moving into the workforce. For many people in the Baby Boomer generation, women generally stayed in the home to care for the household while men worked and were the breadwinners. Now, there are more women than ever in the workforce, allowing women to gain a sense of financial independence, many of whom had never had it before.

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Naperville divorce over 50 lawyersThere are very few, if any, life situations that could be called “easy” when it comes to divorce. When it comes to gray divorce, that is, divorce involving one or more people who are over the age of 50, things are never easy on any level. According to Bloomberg, one study reported that adults who divorced who were over the age of 50 reported higher levels of depression than those whose spouses had died. However, the financial impact of a gray divorce seems to be even more significant, perhaps even more significant than previously thought. Research also shows that adults over the age of 50 can also expect to lose at least 50 percent of their wealth when they divorce. The years of your life during a gray divorce can be rather fragile when it comes to finances, so working with a divorce attorney is highly recommended.

Wealth and Income Can Be Affected Greatly

When you get a divorce, you and your spouse must divide all of your assets and debts. It only makes sense to assume that your standard of living is going to decrease somewhat. Previous studies have shown that younger adult men typically see a negligible effect on their standard of living, while younger adult women typically see around a 20 percent drop in their standard of living. Adults over the age of 50, however, see much more significant decreases. Older women usually see a decrease of 45 percent in their standard of living, while older men see a decrease of around 21 percent.

Women Face Greater Financial Risk

While all older adults face financial risk when they get a divorce, studies show that women, in particular, can suffer. Women who are aged 63 and older who have gone through a gray divorce face a poverty rate of around 27 percent. This is in comparison to men who have gone through a gray divorce, who have a poverty rate around 11 percent and couples who are married or remarried after divorce who have a poverty rate around three percent.

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DuPage County legal separation attorneyIf you have reached middle age or have been married for decades, the prospect of divorce can be difficult to contemplate. After spending so much of your life with your spouse, striking out on your own and building a new life as a single person will likely seem like an impossible task. If you are not ready to take the irrevocable step of ending your marriage, you may want to consider a legal separation instead.

Legal Separation in Illinois

If you choose to pursue a legal separation, you and your spouse can address many of the same issues as you would during a divorce, but you will remain legally married. This may provide multiple different types of benefits for both of you. For example, both spouses will be able to maintain coverage under a single health insurance plan, and you will be able to inherit property from each other if one party passes away. A legal separation may also be preferable if you do not wish to get divorced for religious or cultural reasons. However, if either you or your spouse wish to get married to a new partner, you will need to legally terminate your marriage through divorce.

Either spouse can file a petition for legal separation, and proceedings will be conducted similar to a divorce case. If you are an older couple, you may not need to address child custody, but spousal support may be a factor in a legal separation. If one spouse has relied on the income earned by the other spouse during the couple’s marriage, they may ask that spousal maintenance be awarded to ensure that they can meet their ongoing needs.

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Wheaton gray divorce lawyerWhen getting divorced later in life, you may encounter a variety of financial issues related to your marital home, your retirement savings, or other parts of your life. In addition to determining how to divide your marital assets, you should also be aware of the tax consequences of the decisions you make during your divorce. Unfortunately, even if you believe that you have addressed these matters properly, tax debts are an issue that may come up after your divorce is finalized. In these cases, you will want to understand your options and determine whether you qualify for relief from your spouse’s tax debts.

IRS Tax Liabilities and Innocent Spouse Relief

Even if your divorce settlement or judgment specified that your spouse would be responsible for paying tax debts, the IRS may still take action to collect money from both of you. If you and your spouse filed joint tax returns, and the IRS determines that you owe taxes based on errors or misreported information, both of you will be equally liable for paying the amount owed.

Fortunately, there are options available for relief from these tax debts. You may qualify for innocent spouse relief if your spouse was solely responsible for any errors on a joint tax return, such as misreporting income or claiming improper deductions on tax credits. You will need to show that when you signed the joint tax return in question, you did not know or could not have reasonably known about the errors. If the IRS determines that it would not be fair to require you to pay for your spouse’s errors, you may be granted relief from the requirement to pay these debts.

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Wheaton gray divorce lawyerWhile it is true that first-time marriage rates are much lower these days than they were in years past, once these married couples get a divorce, they are more likely to get remarried if between the ages of 25 and 45 as opposed to above the age of 50. After going through a gray divorce, many couples find their single lives to be quite satisfying. In fact, only 15% of divorced or widowed women at these ages want to remarry (according to Pew) and only 29% of men. Both men and women alike simply do not want to run the risk of another failed marriage, especially so late in life. Although this seems contrary to commonly held beliefs, there are plenty of practical reasons why staying single might be the right decision for you.

  1. It helps you keep most financial benefits of a now-dissolved marriage. If you remarry after you are retired, you might end up losing many significant financial benefits earned after the divorce, including retirement income, social security benefits, healthcare coverage, and life insurance benefits.

  1. It results in a better tax situation for you both. Especially between the ages of 50 and 60, before retirement, you and your prospective spouse might be making a lot more money than if you were younger; not to mention possessing a great deal more value in assets. In that sense, by remarrying and sharing your income and assets, you make the tax situation much more complicated, and you might end up getting taxed at a much higher rate despite being married.

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DuPage County divorce lawyerThose going through a divorce often give significant thought to moving to another city or state so they can get a fresh start. Actually moving, of course, requires careful consideration of many different factors, including the prospects of finding a job, the quality of school districts, and more. For those who are over age 50, however, the factors that could affect the decision to move away are often considerably different than they might have been at an earlier point in their lives. A qualified older divorce lawyer can help you decide on the best course of action for your unique situation.

Things to Think About Before Moving

As you think about where you would like to live after your divorce, you may be thinking about the same places you were considering during your marriage for your retirement years. For example, many older couples plan to move somewhere warm—such as Florida or Arizona—when they retire. Such places could be fine if you have sufficient retirement savings, but restarting after a divorce in those places might be more expensive than you can handle on your own. Other considerations are important as well.

When choosing a place to start again after your divorce, you should give some thought to the following:

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DuPage County grey divorce lawyerDivorce is a mentally and emotionally taxing process, but it can also have an adverse effect on your health. In fact, a recent study found an increased risk of heart problems among divorced women. This can be especially concerning for women who are nearing or at retirement age and are considering a divorce. It is important to understand this risk and how you can effectively manage it during and after your divorce.

Understanding the Risk

Published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, the cumulative study examined the data of divorced and married women over the course of 18 years. Results showed that heart attack risks among divorced women increased by 24 percent after one divorce, and an alarming 77 percent if they went through a second divorce. This remained true, even after researchers adjusted for social and physiological risk factors of heart disease, such as age, changes in occupation, body mass index, health insurance coverage, and diabetes. Furthermore, remarriage did not diminish the likelihood of a heart attack. 

Researchers believe that the increased risk could be the result of a prolonged spike in a hormone known as cortisol, which can elevate during times of stress. Studies have shown that long-term increases of cortisol can lead to higher blood pressure, cholesterol problems, and blood sugar problems – often to the point where it becomes dangerous. Over time, and left unchecked, this could be responsible for the increased risk of heart attack among divorced women.

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Naperville gray divorce attorneyIf you are over the age of 50 and you are going through a divorce—or you have recently finalized your divorce—finding a new romantic partner may be the furthest thing from your mind. Sometimes, however, life throws curveballs, and the perfect person for you may come along when you least expect it. There is also the possibility that you have been emotionally checked out of your marriage for many years prior to your divorce, so you might actually be ready to look for love again as your divorce finalizes. Either way, there are some things you should know before you commit yourself to finding a new serious relationship in the wake of an older divorce.

Spousal Support Considerations

Legal professionals and relationship experts generally agree that it is best to put off getting into a serious romantic relationship until your divorce is completed. Ultimately, however, the decision is up to you, but you need to be careful because certain decisions could affect your financial future more than you might expect.

Under Illinois law, spousal support is not automatic in any divorce case, but it is relatively common in divorces between older spouses who have been together for many years. In many such cases, one spouse tends to be financially dependent on the other, making maintenance necessary for an equitable divorce.

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Wheaton divorce lawyerFor many divorcing couples, one of the most contentious issues is figuring out which spouse will keep the marital home or if keeping the home is even possible. The financial aspect of the decision is also important. When you share a mortgage with your spouse, ending his or her responsibility is not quite as easy as taking your spouse’s name off the loan. If you wish to keep the house, you will likely need to get a mortgage in your name alone, which could take months or years to do. This can present especially difficult challenges if you are getting divorced as you approach retirement as well, so it is important to plan properly.

Is Keeping the Home Even Reasonable?

Your marital home is likely to have a great deal of sentimental value, particularly if you raised your family in that house. It is understandable that you might want to keep the home following your divorce, but the first question you should ask yourself is if it is reasonable for you to stay in the home. For example, if your marital home is a large, 4-bedroom house on several acres, do you really want to live there and care for the property on your own? If your children are still teens and would be living with you, that is one thing, but if they have grown up and moved to various parts of the country, could you handle the responsibilities of managing the home alone?

Assuming you still want to stay in the home, the next question is one of finances. Can you afford to keep the house? In making your decision, you will need to take a close look at what your financial situation will look like in the wake of your divorce. From now on, you will need to support yourself—possibly with the help of maintenance payments, but maybe not. Remember that owning the home on your own means more than paying the mortgage. You will also need to have enough income to cover utilities, taxes, repairs, insurance, and many other home-related expenses.

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Kane County divorce lawyerDepending on when you and your spouse decided to have children, you may be nearing retirement age and still have teenagers at home. This is especially common for couples who have a larger number of children, and it can create unique challenges if you and your spouse opt to end your marriage through divorce.

According to recent studies, about one in four teenagers whose parents are going through divorce suffer from issues like depression or reckless behavior. Unlike younger children, who may become clingy during a divorce, teenagers will often distance themselves and keep their emotions tight to appear mature and in control of the situation. Teenagers are old enough to understand the world, but they still require the care of a parent. Given the turbulence that already comes with the adolescent years, divorce can be especially stressful for teenagers. 

Is My Child Stressed?

Teenagers usually have the language skills to discuss how they feel, but they will rarely do so without prompting. There are short-term effects from divorce that are to be expected in any child, such as sadness, guilt, and anger. However, parents should also be aware of the long-term issues that may arise. Some signs to look out for include:

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Naperville divorce lawyerThe divorce rate seems to have somewhat stabilized in recent decades, and it might even be falling, but nearly a million marriages in the U.S. end in divorce each year. While some people might give up on the idea of being happy in a marriage after their divorce, many others are willing to give love a second chance—including a significant number of those who are in their 50s and beyond. Recent studies indicate that a full 40 percent of all marriages include at least one spouse who was married previously, and 20 percent involve both partners getting married again. In fact, a Pew Research Center study suggested that about 60 percent of American divorced and widowed people will remarry at least once.

Possible Legal Issues

Remarriage can offer you a chance at marital happiness, but there are many legal concerns that can affect a second or third marriage more substantially than they might affect a first marriage, especially if you are getting remarried later in life. A skilled family lawyer can help you and your new spouse be aware of such considerations so that they do not become bigger issues:

  • Termination of Maintenance: Many older divorces include an order of alimony—called maintenance in Illinois. If your former spouse is paying your maintenance each month, your remarriage will terminate your ex’s responsibility for such payments. The court could even end the payments if you move in with your new partner prior to getting married.

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Wheaton spousal support attorneyAlimony, or spousal maintenance, is thought of as a tool to help newly divorced people adapt from a two-income household to a one-income household. Maintenance is often of special importance for those who get divorced later in life. In many cases, maintenance payments eventually cease, usually after a financial goal or time limit is reached. However, in Illinois and a handful of other states, it can end earlier depending on each spouse’s circumstances. Cohabitating with a new partner after your divorce can have unintended consequences.

A “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

Generally in Illinois, maintenance is granted by the family court or by mutual agreement between the spouses. It will be granted, according to the court, to the spouse who needs it most, based on a number of factors. Some of the most important factors include:

  • Income and debt levels of both spouses

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Posted on in Divorce

Wheaton divorce lawyerIt is not at all uncommon for middle-aged adults to shy away from the idea of divorce. Many individuals remain in unhappy marriages merely to avoid the discomfort that comes with separating later in life. For many reasons, it is completely understandable to experience extreme anxiety when faced with ending a marriage after the age of 50, especially when you have spent a good chunk of your life with your partner. The hurdles that accompany life after a gray divorce are intimidating, but they do not need to stop you from moving on and enjoying your life.

The following are examples of common fears that often cause middle-aged adults to stay in unhealthy marriages:

  • Loss of familiarity - Deciding to take the plunge and end a marriage at any point in life is a scary thing, but experts suggest that divorcing after the age of 50 tends to be particularly fear-inducing. It is not hard to see why; for starters, years of memories, habits, and routines have accumulated over time, making it seem inconceivable that another way of life could exist after the marriage. Many couples simply see divorce as an impossible feat when they look back and consider the amount of time they have invested in the relationship. For others, if the marriage is short-lived, the idea of divorcing can be just as scary, as it can feel as if time is running out. It can also translate into a failure in the individual’s mind because it causes them to wonder if it was, in fact, a waste of their time. Whatever your personal circumstances may be, you can take comfort in knowing that starting over and facing new routines is difficult for everyone, no matter which stage of life, for many different reasons. 

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Wheaton divorce lawyerAfter a divorce, it is very common for people to begin worrying about their future, especially if they are at an age where retirement may soon be an option. One of the issues that may concern them is the question of Social Security benefits. There is much confusion over who is entitled to what, and without the help of an experienced attorney, you and your ex-spouse could find yourselves back in court or embroiled in a long debate that is simply unnecessary. 

Requirements to Collect

Almost every individual in the United States who legally works will build up what the Social Security Administration (SSA) calls a work record. Normally, you will be entitled to benefits based on the length and type of your work record, but spouses or former spouses have the right to collect based on their spouse’s record if it is better than their own. The rationale is that especially for older women, who might not be as well-equipped in terms of their ability to reenter the workforce after divorce, there needs to be a safety net of sorts to keep people out of poverty. 

The SSA lists a few criteria that must be met in order to qualify for benefits on your ex-spouse’s work record, and all of them must be met:

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DuPage County gray divorce attorneyIn this day and age, it is becoming more common for senior citizens to divorce, sometimes after decades of marriage. While the causes are numerous, what many do not take into account is that divorcing at an older age can have challenges that younger couples often do not experience. If an older couple is not adequately prepared for some of the particular questions they may confront, significant issues can quickly develop.

Pensions and Other Benefits

One major concern that is not especially pressing for most younger couples is how to divide a pension or Social Security funds. If a couple has been married for ten years or longer, and one or both are over the age of 62, spouses can draw benefits on each other’s work history. This can create complexities in a divorce.

Retirement savings, investments, and pensions are generally divided using Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs), which apportion a certain percentage of one spouse’s earned retirement benefits to the other spouse. While this is not uncommon, it can still cause issues, given that one spouse’s retirement money is essentially cut in half. Budgets and estate plans will likely need to be reworked. 

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Yorkville gray divorce attorney

Getting divorced after the age of 50, often called a "gray divorce," can be especially difficult under any circumstances. However, if you have a health condition that requires regular care and treatment. You may be concerned about your ability to cover medical expenses without financial support from your spouse, especially if you relied on his or her health insurance coverage. Rest assured that there are options to ensure you continue receiving the care that you need, and your attorney can help you find one that works for you.

Options for Maintaining Health Insurance Coverage in Illinois

If you are employed after your divorce, you can likely obtain health insurance through your own employer. If you can afford it, an individual health insurance plan may also be an option. However, if neither of these is possible, there are several alternatives, including:

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St. Charles gray divorce attorney

For couples divorcing after age 50, perhaps the most pressing concern is the impact the divorce will have on retirement. When you have spent most of your life planning and budgeting for retirement as a married couple, it may be overwhelming to consider how your plans will change now that you will be on your own. It is inevitable that divorce will have some impact on your retirement, but with some careful consideration and the assistance of an attorney, it is often possible to salvage many of your retirement goals.

Preparing for Retirement During Your Illinois Divorce

Making sure that you are still able to comfortably retire after your divorce often requires smart decision-making during the divorce process as well as a clear plan for after the divorce is finalized. Important strategies to consider include:

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Geneva divorce attorney

The rate of divorce for older couples has grown over the past decade, resulting in the term “gray” divorce. Considering a divorce at any age can be scary, but for those couples who are 50 and older, it can be downright daunting. Spouses who have been married for 25 years or more often have a lot of baggage, as they say. They may have acquired a lot of marital property and assets, all of which will need to be divided if they choose to part ways and legally end the marriage. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, which means any property obtained after the wedding will need to be divided fairly based on several factors. However, in some cases, that might be the easy part. Moving on emotionally can be difficult, regardless of gender. Even though the stereotype is that they are supposed to be the stronger sex, men often have a harder time suddenly adjusting to single life after so many years with a partner.  

Moving On at Midlife 

Once they reach their 40s and 50s, many people take a look at how their lives have turned out. Often considered a “midlife crisis,” men and women alike often find themselves unhappy or disillusioned about what they have accomplished thus far, personally and professionally. In a lot of these situations, their kids are all grown and off to college or living on their own. In some cases, these “empty nesters” realize that they have nothing in common anymore and decide to part amicably. However, sometimes the wife files for divorce, leaving her husband dumbfounded. He may have been too busy pursuing his career to notice that their relationship was deteriorating beyond the point of repair. Below are a few practical tips for men who are facing life after a gray divorce:

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