If you are considering a divorce before age 50, you are not alone. While statistics show that the divorce rate is increasing among seniors, the majority of divorces occur while spouses are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
When getting divorced before age 50, there are some special considerations to keep in mind. This is especially true if you have minor children from your marriage. In this article, we cover five key issues to consider as you prepare for your divorce.
5 Issues to Consider as You Prepare for Your Divorce
1. Remaining in Close Proximity to Your Children
If you have children who are under the age of 18, child custody will play a central role in the divorce process. One of the first decisions you will need to make is: Do you want to try to remain in the family home? Or, are you ready to move out and start your new life?
If you will be moving out, you will need to think carefully about where you will move. For both practical and legal purposes, it will likely make the most sense to remain in relatively close proximity to your children’s other parent. Not only can this make things easier for you and your children post-divorce, but it can potentially impact the custody determination process as well.
In today’s world, more people than ever are working from home, and this can make it enticing to consider relocating to a far-flung location. But, when you have minor children, your child’s needs take precedence. Under Illinois law, all custody decisions must be made based on the best interests of the children involved, and there is a presumption that this means maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents. As a result, judges are less likely to approve a custody plan that excludes one parent from their children’s lives, or that makes it impractical for a couple’s children to spend time with both parents.
2. Saving for College and Managing Other Child-Related Expenses
College is getting more expensive, and this means that parents need to make saving a priority. After a divorce, it will likely be important for both parents to continue making contributions to their children’s college savings plans. But, since the college years typically fall after age 18, college savings isn’t covered under child support in most cases. So, what can you do?
Illinois’s divorce laws include a provision that specifically addresses educational expenses. If you have minor children, in addition to addressing child support during your divorce, you will need to separately address your children’s college savings needs. You and your spouse will need to agree on savings commitments that work for both of you; or, if you cannot agree, you will need to ask the judge to establish college savings obligations as part of the divorce process.
Most (but not all) other child-related expenses will fall under the umbrella of child support. Illinois law requires both parents to provide financial support for their minor children. Parents’ support obligations are generally determined according to the Illinois Child Support Guidelines, which take into consideration the parents’ respective income levels, the children’s needs, and certain other factors.
3. Protecting Your Financial Stability
In addition to an obligation to pay child support, many divorcees will have an obligation to pay spousal support post-divorce. While spousal support is not legally required in Illinois (unlike child support, which is mandatory in divorces involving minor children), spouses who have become financially dependent have the right to seek spousal support as part of the divorce process. There are four types of spousal support in Illinois, and Illinois law establishes several factors that must be considered when determining an appropriate alimony award.
When preparing for a divorce, it is important to give due consideration to your financial stability. This is true whether you will need to seek spousal support, or you will need to manage a spousal support obligation while also managing your other expenses. Spousal support obligations can last for years or decades, and the Illinois courts will award “indefinite” alimony in appropriate cases. Payment amounts can vary widely, and the key is to target a spousal support award that you can manage not only now, but also in the years to come.
4. Protecting Your Savings
Whether you have just recently started saving or you have accumulated a comfortable nest egg through your 30s and 40s, the prospect of starting over can be overwhelming. Illinois follows the rule of equitable distribution, which means that divorcing spouses must divide their assets fairly—though not necessarily right down the middle.
Prioritization is key when it comes to the equitable distribution of marital property. Both spouses will generally want to protect their savings to the greatest extent possible, and this means that both spouses will need to be willing to compromise. If you still have decades to go until retirement, you will need to think carefully about which accounts and other assets you need to protect in order to keep your savings goals on track.
5. Planning for the Future
Ultimately, when getting divorced before 50, making informed decisions means planning for the future. You have a lot of bright years ahead, and you need to do everything you can to maximize your opportunities as you start your new life. What are you looking forward to experiencing most as your children grow? What do you need to do to ensure that you can maintain your standard of living? How can you avoid falling behind on your children’s college savings and your retirement? These are all critical questions you will need to answer as you move forward.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Gurnee, IL Divorce Lawyer
Are you considering a divorce before 50? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To schedule an appointment with Gurnee, IL divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or tell us how we can reach you online today.