Divorce rates among spouses over the age of 50 are on the rise. According to the Pew Research Center, “among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s.” The Pew Research Center also reports that “among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled.”

While experts have suggested several possible explanations, if you are contemplating a divorce, the reasons why other people choose to get divorced really don’t matter. What matters is how you approach the divorce process and what you do to make sure the outcome of your divorce is as favorable as possible.

5 Issues to Consider When Contemplating a Divorce After 50

While getting a divorce involves the same overarching issues regardless of age, there are some special considerations for divorcing after 50. For example, as you begin thinking about the future, you will likely want to consider issues such as:

1. Deciding What To Do about the Family Home

The more time you spend in your home, the more attached you can become. Moving can also seem overwhelming, especially while devoting your time and energy to the divorce process.

If you want to stay in your home, this is likely something you will need to prioritize during your divorce. But, before you get set on staying put, you should also make sure you have given thought to all relevant considerations. Will you be able to manage the upkeep of the home on your own? Is your house in need (or soon to be in need) of costly updates or repairs? Could your health care needs force you to move out sooner than you would like?

While the decision of whether to remain in your home is a personal one, as you age, it becomes a practical one as well. Just like the other aspects of your divorce, you will want to make sure you are making informed decisions based on a realistic assessment of your family, health, and financial circumstances.

2. Protecting Your Retirement

For many spouses over 50, protecting their retirement is among their top priorities during the divorce process—and understandably so. Retirement accounts are often among older spouses’ most valuable assets, and starting over later in life can be untenable.

Deciding what to do about retirement assets in a divorce can be complicated for a host of different reasons. For example, if you (or your spouse) started saving before your marriage, then a portion of your (or your spouse’s) retirement savings may not be subject to division in your divorce. If only one of you has a retirement account (and the account is subject to division), you and your spouse will need to decide whether to split the account or exchange one spouse’s interest for other marital property. If you and your spouse decide to split one or more retirement accounts, you will need to be sure to obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) to avoid negative tax consequences.

Pensions, military retirement, stock options, and other types of retirement assets also require careful consideration. Again, the key is to make informed decisions and focus on ensuring that you will have the financial resources you need in the years to come.

3. Health Care Planning

Health care can be costly, and as we age, our health care needs only continue to grow. If you have been relying on your spouse’s health insurance coverage, you will need to make sure you have access to continuing coverage after your divorce.

Even if you can stay on your former spouse’s plan under COBRA, this coverage will not last indefinitely. Additionally, it is possible, if not likely, that your coverage needs will increase over time. As a result, rather than solely focusing on ensuring that your coverage does not lapse as a result of your divorce, you will want to proactively assess your long-term needs (to the extent that you can) and take this into account when making decisions about things like alimony and prioritizing certain marital assets over others.

4. Alimony, Social Security, and Life Insurance

Speaking of alimony, there are several additional factors that go into determining an appropriate monthly spousal support payment in a divorce under Illinois law. This is one area where divorcing spouses’ interests tend to be opposed, and both spouses must work with their respective attorneys to craft an appropriate spousal support award.

When making decisions about alimony, it is important to consider your Social Security eligibility. Getting divorced can impact the benefits you are eligible to receive, and making informed decisions requires an in-depth understanding of the state and federal laws that apply. Alimony and life insurance must also be considered in tandem, as divorced spouses who are obligated to pay alimony may need to maintain coverage to ensure that funds will be available.

5. Other Financial and Property-Related Considerations

Spouses over 50 can face particular needs and challenges in various other aspects of the divorce process. For example:

  • Identifying “Separate” Assets – While “marital” assets are subject to equitable distribution, “separate” assets are not. If you’ve been married for a long time, identifying your separate assets could be a challenging—but extremely important—part of the divorce process.
  • Valuing and Prioritizing “Marital” Assets – Concerning your marital assets, you will need to ensure an appropriate valuation. This can be difficult for assets that have appreciated over time. Divorcing spouses over 50 must also think carefully about their priorities. They must carefully balance the desire to protect assets of sentimental value with the need to keep assets that provide financial security.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with Gurnee, IL Divorce Lawyer Deanna J. Bowen

If you are considering a divorce after 50 and would like to know more about the process, we encourage you to contact us. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with Gurnee, IL, divorce lawyer Deanna J. Bowen, please call 847-623-4002 or request an appointment online today.