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Special Considerations for Gray Divorces in Illinois

Mature couple with torn paper heart on grey background. Relationship problems

Divorces between older couples, often nicknamed “gray divorces,” are becoming more and more common across the country. The number of married individuals over the age of 50 divorcing has more than doubled since 1990. There is no maximum age for a couple to realize that they would be happier apart. For couples that do decide later in life that they would be better off separated, there are additional complications that may arise in the divorce. Read on for a discussion of some of the issues that merit additional attention in so-called gray divorces. Reach out to a Chicago family law attorney for help with an Illinois divorce or other family law matter.

Complicated Asset Division

While couples in their 20s and 30s may not have accumulated too many assets by the time they decide to divorce, couples in their 50s and older have a lifetime of wealth and assets to contend with. Gray divorces are more likely to involve complex asset division, necessitating the help of a seasoned Chicago divorce attorney as well as accountants and other experts. Assets that are likely to come into play when elderly couples divorce include:

  • Joint ownership in family businesses
  • Retirement accounts and pensions
  • Real estate, including homes and other investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Investment portfolios

Additionally, as part of the property division process, the higher-income spouse may be required to maintain a life insurance policy for the benefit of the former spouse or shared children. Talk to a savvy Illinois divorce lawyer familiar with complex assets and financial issues to ensure that your assets and your interests are protected in divorce at any age.

Spousal Support

Illinois courts will make determinations regarding spousal maintenance based on a variety of factors, including the income of each party as well as their health, property, and prospects for employment. The court will also take into account the length of the marriage. Shorter marriages may have support for a short duration while the recipient spouse gets the education and training necessary to secure their own income. For marriages that last over 20 years, however, the court may award spousal support indefinitely, or at least equal to the duration of the marriage. In gray divorces in which alimony is appropriate, the paying spouse is likely to owe support until the recipient remarries or one of the parties passes away.

Minor Children

One of the benefits of gray divorces is the likelihood that there are no minor children. Older divorcing couples typically do not need to resolve issues involving parental responsibility, child support, or child custody. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts benefiting adult children, however, may still be at issue. Additionally, if the couple has any special needs children, then issues such as establishing special needs trusts may arise.


If you are dealing with divorce, child custody, spousal support, or any other family law issue in Chicagoland, contact the passionate and dedicated Carol Stream family law attorneys at Johnson, Westra, Broecker, Whittaker & Newitt at 630-665-9600.

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