At one point in time, getting divorced after a certain age was viewed as odd, if not unacceptable. In fact, in 1990, only 1 in 10 people who sought out and received a divorce were age 50 or older. Just years ago, that number has grown to more than 1 in 4 people, making the concept much more common.
With this new trend comes something else that’s new: A new set of issues and concerns that are quite distinct from the problems younger couples face in divorce. After all, most people who are getting divorced at age 50 or older have adult children, meaning child custody and parenting schedules are not a concern. Instead, issues such as property division and maintenance are the most significant concerns.
Two Primary Issues Emerge: Property Division and Maintenance
With no children to disagree over, two primary issues emerge in most divorces with individuals age 50 or older: Property division and maintenance.
Property division is at issue, especially when it comes to the division of valuable assets such as retirement accounts. After all, older individuals are much nearer to retirement and the division of other assets can almost equally affect stability for spouses. If one spouse is in poor physical health and can no longer work, this may also affect property division as he or she may receive a greater share of property if the other spouse is still working and earning an income.
Maintenance is also a contentious issue, though not nearly as contentious as property division. Under the new Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Of Marriage Act (IMDMA) that has been in effect since January 1, 2016, there is a new formula for maintenance calculation based on the incomes of both parties and the length of the marriage. The calculation is as follows:
- Calculate 30 percent of the higher earning spouse’s gross income.
- Calculate 20 percent of the lower earning spouse’s gross income.
- Subtract the lower amount from the higher amount, taking care to ensure it isn’t in excess of 40 percent of the combined gross income of the parties.
- Divide by 12 to arrive at a monthly maintenance obligation.
Once the figure is calculated, the length of the obligation must be calculated as well. According to the IMDMA, this is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage by a factor as specific by the Act:
- Married for 5 years or less: .20
- Married for more than 5 years but less than 10 years: .40
- Married for more than 10 years but less than 15 years: .60
- Married for more than 15 years but less than 20 years: .80
- Married for 20 or more years: Permanent maintenance or maintenance for a period of time equal to the length of the marriage (as determined by the Courts)
For example, if you were married for 18 years, the support obligation would be for 14.4 years (i.e. 18 x .80 = 14.4) during which time you would be paid the support obligation as calculated by the formula above.
Maintenance offers stability to a spouse who may have sacrificed his or her career to care for the children or has been unable to work for other reasons. However, the length of the obligation makes it a contentious issue, especially for spouses who don’t see eye-to-eye.
Are You Over 50 and are Considering Divorce?
If you’re over 50 and are considering a divorce, it’s important that you work with a law firm with experiencing in the issues most important to your case. At Lawrence R. Surinak Ltd., we’ve addressed these issues for over 35 years and will be glad to provide support, guidance, and assistance you need.
To speak with Larry, contact us at 630-470-9990 or, if you prefer, request your free, 30-minute consultation online. We look forward to speaking with you and helping you resolve the issues most important to your case.