Shawn H. Heffernan & Associates, P.C.
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Why older couples are divorcing at a greater rate

People in Illinois, like the rest of the country, are experiencing a worrying trend in marital relations. Though the divorce rate among the rest of the population is decreasing slightly, divorces among older couples are on the rise over the past 15 years or so. Divorce for people over the age of 50 has come to be known as grey divorce.

There are various social and economic reasons for the rise in grey divorces, not the least of which is the decreasing stigma of a divorce. However, other reasons are apparent for the trend.

Older Americans are healthier and more active and live longer than in the past. A divide can occur when one partner wishes to remain more physically or socially active while the other does not or cannot do the same. Older couples can also grow apart in other ways, developing different interests and life goals in their later years.

Older couples also have a unique financial situation not common to younger couples. A greater reliance on retirement income usually means a smaller monthly budget. Less income will increase a strain on the marriage if outstanding debts are still substantial. If a spouse has developed a gambling or substance abuse habit, the financial situation can become unbearable for the other spouse.

Infidelity can also lead to grey divorces. Often, the infidelity is a result of another marital problem, such as growing apart or seeking other interests. However, it is often the "final straw" when an affair happens.

People tend to think of the emotional stress a divorce can place upon minor children, but adult children are also affected by their long-married parents separating, especially where estate planning is concerned. Financially, extra care must be made while dividing income and assets. One or both partners may no longer be considered employable. Skilled family law attorneys may be needed to ensure that neither party ends up impoverished.

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