Gray divorce issues


A recent report by Reuters notes that gray divorce is on the rise. These divorces among people over age 50 are increasingly common, according to a survey of divorce lawyers. The divorce rate in this age group has doubled over the past twenty years.


A boomer trend


The survey, conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, characterized the surge in divorceamong the baby boomer generation as a significant trend. Baby boomers have led the nation in social changes, and attitudes toward marriage are a part of the ideological shift.


As people live longer, married couples' interests can diverge. When children leave home and their parents retire, husbands and wives have an opportunity to make a change if the marital relationship is not satisfying. Baby boomers have learned to prioritize individual development, and many are unwilling to stay in a marriage that they feel is unfulfilling.


A major issue


The AAML survey documented the issues couples fought about the most when going through a gray divorce. By far, the most divisive issue was spousal maintenance, commonly called alimony. Other important concerns, also financial, were interests in businesses and retirement funds.


Even though many women in the baby boomer generation have established careers and substantial financial independence, some have lagged in their personal career development while raising children and supporting spouses in their employment advances. Spousal maintenance may be necessary for their financial well being after a gray divorce.

Determining spousal maintenance


The laws of the state of Illinois lay out relevant factors that are to be taken into account when a court determines an award of spousal maintenance. Either spouse may be awarded temporary or permanent maintenance.


Each spouse's income and property are considered, along with each person's needs and earning capacity at the present time and into the future. The court will also consider whether the spouse who is asking for maintenance may have lost some earning capacity because of the marriage. That spouse may have been busy with household and child raising responsibilities and may have missed out on employment opportunities, education and training. The spouse's contributions to the other spouse's education and career advancement, including professional licensing, are similarly taken into account.


The ages of the parties, their physical and emotional health, standard of living and length of the marriage are important factors, too. In determining how long spousal maintenance should last, the judge will want to know how long it would take for the person receiving maintenance to get the training and education needed to find employment. In some cases, it could be argued that it is unrealistic to expect that the spouse who receives maintenance will be able to become self-supporting.


Gray divorce has its own special concerns, and it is important for anyone going through a divorce at any stage of life to consult an experienced attorney. Financial security could be a major issue, especially for older individuals, and an attorney will provide vigorous advocacy to work toward a satisfactory result.