It may seem be surprising when a couple decides to divorce after being together for decades, but it happens frequently. The divorce rate for couples in long-term marriages is increasing. Lawyers and other professionals often refer to this phenomenon as a gray divorce. A couple may decide to end their long-term marriage for a variety of reasons, including: a disparity in activity level or health, differences in spending and saving habits, or they may have simply grown apart .
Couples in long-term marriages may face several unique challenges because of the length of their marriage. If you are contemplating a separation or divorce after many years of marriage, it may be wise to consult an Illinois divorce attorney before taking any steps to ensure you address these issues before they become a problem.
Many issues may arise during a divorce action. However, these three issues are common in divorces involving long-term marriages.
Spouses in a long-term marriage may have significant financial concerns when divorcing. Couples may have accumulated significant assets during the marriage that must be divided, including valuable retirement accounts. For couples who may have tried to maintain some separate property, a lengthy marriage may make it more difficult to prove that a spouse did not commingle or otherwise change the status of premarital property.
Couples at or near retirement may have difficulty supporting two households with the retirement assets available to them.
Couples must also revisit their estate plans. A divorce after decades of marriage can have a significant impact on an estate plan after property has been divided between the parties.
Alimony or spousal support may also be a more significant issue in a long-term marriage. Judges first determine whether spousal maintenance is legally justified by using a variety of factors, including any factor that the court considers to be just and equitable for making a decision regarding spousal maintenance.
If spousal maintenance is justified, the judge uses a standard formula if the gross income of the couple is less than $500,000. However, a judge may adjust the amount of the payments by considering the needs of each spouse and the standard of living of the couple during the marriage. For many couples, the standard of living improves the longer they are married, which may result in more maintenance.
The length of the marriage determines the duration of spousal maintenance payments. The duration of payments increases with the length of the marriage based on a standard multiplying factor. For couples married 20 years or longer, there is no standard multiplying factor. The duration of payments may equal the length of the marriage or an indefinite term. The judge has sole discretion in making this decision for marriages of 20 years or longer.
When a couple has been married for many years, they typically develop a social circle of close friends. However, when the couple decides to divorce, the question of who gets the friendships can be complicated. Family dynamics are another issue with divorces in long-term marriages. While divorce may be difficult for young children, it can also be difficult for adult children. Couples may also need to consider grandchildren and how a divorce may impact them.
A divorce can be complicated even after a few years of marriage. An Illinois divorce attorney can provide guidance and support in addition to legal advice for an individual facing a divorce after many years of marriage. Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your legal options when it comes to divorce.
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