"Gray" divorces continue to rise

On behalf of <span class="byline-firm-name">Lake Toback Attorneys</span>

In Illinois and across the United States, divorce rates have been declining for all demographic groups except one: baby boomers. Among Americans 51 and older, there has been a surge in divorce filings, according to recently released survey results from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. In some states, the divorce rate among couples 50 or older has more than doubled over the past decade. Lawyers have a nickname for this phenomenon: “gray divorce.”

Divorces between members of this age group can be more complicated than divorces between younger individuals. Although child custody is seldom an issue, asset division can be a complex process. Houses, rental property, joint business holdings, and pension and retirement accounts may present a major challenge.

Married couples have joint property and separate property. Generally speaking, joint property is everything a couple acquires after marriage, but there are exceptions to this rule. Inheritances received during marriage remain the sole property of the heir as do court-ordered awards for pain and suffering in a civil lawsuit. Property acquired in one spouse’s name during the course of a marriage that was never used for the other spouse’s benefit may also be assessed as separate property by a family court.

Once a court has determined which assets divorcing spouses hold in common, it’s time to divide them. Various states use different systems of property division. Illinois is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property may not be split between the two partners solely on the basis of value. Instead, the court will factor in variables like the duration of the marriage, the age of the divorcing couple and whether or not both spouses are capable of supporting themselves in determining who gets what. An experienced family law attorney may be able to assist couples over 50 with establishing an equitable divorce settlement.

Source: Huff Post Divorce, “Gray Divorce Is On The Rise, According To New Data“, June 12, 2013

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"Gray" divorces continue to rise