Because older couples have had more time to accumulate assets and are closer to nearing retirement, they have special considerations in their divorce. Some of the unique issues that older couples may confront include:
While the most valuable asset for younger couples may be their marital home, couples going through a gray divorce are more likely to have more valuable retirement accounts. They may have spent most of their professional life building up their retirement funds. It can be daunting for them to consider splitting up these accounts when there are fewer years to make up for the loss. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order may be necessary to avoid penalties or taxes caused by a transfer to a spouse.
While pensions are not as common as they were generations before, state and local governments commonly offer pensions. Illinois police officers, government agents, teachers and firefighters may have pensions. These may be subject to division. Divorce lawyers can explain their client’s rights and entitlements related to these plans.
For couples who have been married longer, spousal support may be more likely to be ordered. However, determining spousal support may be more difficult for more established individuals who may receive bonuses, stock options, business interests, travel perks and other benefits that may be subject to division or consideration when requesting spousal support.
Although older couples may be more likely to have older children, their obligation to pay child support may last longer than they thought. While a married person is not required to support a child into college, Illinois courts do reserve the right to order ongoing support for college expenses. Illinois family courts consider the following factors when considering whether to order child support for college students:
- the financial resources of both parents;
- the standard of living the child would have had if the parents would have continued their relationship;
- the financial resources of the child;
- the child’s academic performance
In order to protect the expected income for child support or spousal support, some divorce lawyers recommend requiring the paying party to maintain a life insurance policy. The recommendation may be for the amount of the policy to equal the future stream of payments until the support obligation ends. Maintaining this insurance can be expensive for the paying party due to being older and possibly dealing with health problems.