Compassionate, Results-Driven Representation

Divorce over 50: What should you focus on?

On Behalf of | Mar 3, 2024 | Family Law

If you’re among the growing number of people considering divorce who are in their 50s or older – particularly if you and your spouse have been married for decades – it’s a big decision. Further, the kinds of things that will be most important to you as you negotiate your settlement will likely be very different than those in their 30s need to worry about.

Certainly, every couple’s divorce is unique. However, there are also some issues that are still relatively common in “gray divorce” than in other divorces. Let’s look at just a few.

Division of retirement accounts

If you’ve been in the workplace for a few decades or more, a large percentage of your assets are likely in retirement accounts. You probably rolled over employer-sponsored retirement accounts like 401(k)s into individual retirement accounts (IRAs). However, if you still have these employer-sponsored accounts with your current employers, you’ll probably need to get a qualified domestic relation order (QDRO) to divide them without having to incur penalties. 

Spousal maintenance

If one spouse earns considerably more than the other, possibly because they put their career on the back burner while they raised children and managed the household, they may well be able to seek alimony (or maintenance, as it’s known under Illinois law). The income of both spouses is one consideration in determining the amount and duration of maintenance. 

So are many other factors, including the length of the marriage, the standard of living during the marriage and how much one spouse contributed to the other spouse’s education and career. It’s crucial to seek a fair maintenance award, whether you’re the payee or payor.

Commitments to young adult children

If you’re helping pay for your child’s college education, you don’t want to suddenly pull the rug out from under them. You may want to include this financial commitment in your divorce agreements and how it will be split (or possibly handled by one of you). The same is true if you’ve committed to helping pay for a wedding, first home or something else as your child moves into adulthood.

There are plenty of other things to consider, like how your Social Security retirement benefits will affect your financial picture, what changes need to be made to your estate plan and much more. It may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you have solid legal and financial guidance.