The term ‘until death do us part’ does not hold true in many American marriages. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that at least 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce in the country. For the baby boomer generation, the rate of divorce has risen over the past 20 years. According to a study released by Bowling Green State University, one in four people over the age of 50 will file for divorce, which is a substantial increase from the one in ten people who filed for divorce in 1990. This gray divorce phenomenon is sweeping across Illinois and the nation, leaving many people to question the cause for this rise in marriage dissolution and the need to negotiate a divorce settlement.
As the economy improves, the number of job opportunities increases. More women than ever before have infiltrated the workforce, and many have mastered successful careers, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Bloomberg News reported that 58 percent of adult women were employed in the U.S. earlier this year. In 2011, approximately 67 percent of working women were divorced. Not only are more women able to find jobs if they should find themselves in a position where they have to enter the workforce, but some are financially independent by the time they reach 50-years-old. These women are more likely to leave a relationship that does not meet their expectations. Couples who were at one time unable to afford a divorce may now consider going through with the process.
An article published in Communities Digital News points to empty nest syndrome as a likely cause of gray divorce. Couples who build their marriage around their children may find it difficult to reconnect with one another once the kids have left for college. Couples who have been married for 20 years or more suddenly find out how much they have changed and how their needs have evolved through the years. Once the children have left home, many people still have 30 to 40 years of life to enjoy. They may decide that they don’t want to spend those years in an unhappy relationship.
According to the American Association of Retired Persons, people who are 50 years of age and older may be placed in a precarious financial situation if they decide to separate after years of marriage. Couples must look at asset and property division, including income from retirement funds, social security benefits, pensions, 401K plans, and life insurance policies. Some spouses may be awarded alimony to help compensate them for the dramatic change in finances they may experience.
People who are going through a gray divorce should have a robust support system. It can be difficult detaching from a relationship after an extended amount of time. Close family and friends can help people get through the hard times and minimize the risk for depression and anxiety.
A divorce attorney can be beneficial in explaining your legal rights and options when it comes to terminating your marriage. By speaking to an attorney, you can ensure that you get everything you are entitled to in the divorce settlement.
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