Family Law Attorney Belleville, Illinois

What is a gray divorce?

An older man and woman stand back to back with their arms crossed in dissent.

The high-profile breakup of Bill and Melinda Gates is shining a spotlight on gray divorce. Any divorce is difficult, but separations among longtime couples have their differences.

Here's what you need to know.

It’s not you, it’s us

It may surprise you that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the divorce rate in this country is at a 50-year-low. Just as surprising might be that divorce rates are highest — about 43% — among both sexes in the 55 to 64 age group. The recent separation of Bill and Melinda Gates, 65 and 56, respectively, is part of a trend, not just a celebrity headline.

If you find yourself in this situation, you probably have a lot of questions. The first ones you should consider, even before the financial consequences, include:

  • What do you hope will happen?
  • What is the best-case scenario?
  • What is the worst-case scenario?
  • What do you gain if you leave?
  • What do you lose if you leave?

Getting a gray divorce does not have to be all negative. Because you are older, you have the experience of having survived rough times in your relationship. You probably feel less obligated to explain yourself to your parents, older relatives, and friends.

Your children are another matter. Do not assume they should be able to handle your divorce any easier because they are adults. Their emotions are just as strong, if not stronger, and they have a greater ability to express themselves than they did as small children. This can lead to emotional confrontations. While it’s important to be honest, expect some blowback.

Handling the financial & social fallout

Because you and your spouse have been together for decades, your finances are probably tangled together in ways that make them difficult to separate. It can be a major challenge if one person worked while the other stayed at home, the couple operated a business together, or if one person handled most of the finances. As much as possible, keep detailed records of your finances, from bank accounts and mortgages to debts and retirement accounts.

One possible approach to a gray divorce is mediation. A trained mediator can offer expert advice that you may not have otherwise considered concerning child and spousal support and division of assets. Mediators can provide an outside perspective that can help break down barriers.

Being judged by others for getting a divorce later in life is often a painful subject that is out of your control. People like to gossip and take sides, but you have to do your best to ignore the outside noise and focus on doing what is right for you. True friends and other supporters will be there for you. The others? You don’t need them in your lives.

A divorce lawyer can help you look forward, not backward

The divorce process in Illinois can be complicated, especially for older couples who are focused on figuring out how to move on from a marriage later in life. During this time, your energy should be concentrated on securing the best possible future for yourself.

At Courtney Clark Law, P.C. in Belleville, our divorce attorneys have nearly 40 years of experience helping clients throughout Illinois. While no two divorces are the same, you can rely on our experience to find a strategy that meets your needs and goals.

Get answers to your questions and see how an experienced divorce lawyer in Illinois can help you. Contact us today to set up an appointment at our Belleville law firm.

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