Challenges for Those Facing Grey Divorce

Challenges for Those Facing Grey DivorceGrey divorce is a term commonly used to describe when couples age 55 and older decide to end their marriages. Despite their years together, older couples can develop differences that make them unhappy in their relationships. Friends and family may be shocked at the timing of the divorce, but the spouses may have seen it coming long ago. All divorce agreements center on dividing properties and establishing support payments. However, grey divorce may require more focus on retirement accounts and spousal maintenance.

Spousal Maintenance

When Illinois courts must determine spousal support payments, they calculate the duration of the payments based on the number of years the spouses were married. Spouses in grey divorce may have been married for 20 or more years, which allows the court to award permanent spousal maintenance. Also, maintenance payers of all ages must back their payments with a life insurance policy, in case they die before the payments are set to expire. Life insurance will be more expensive for older individuals paying maintenance.

Dividing Retirement

Retirement benefits are marital properties that may be divided during a divorce. When divorcees are nearing retirement age, their retirement plans can be some of the most lucrative properties from their marriage. The process of receiving a share of retirement benefits varies by the type of retirement plan:

  • For most private retirement plans, the alternate recipient must file a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to receive an amount or percentage of the benefits;
  • For pensions given out through the Illinois state government, the alternate recipient must file a Qualified Illinois Domestic Relations Order; and
  • When divorcing after a marriage of 10 years or longer, the alternate recipient may receive his or her former spouse’s Social Security retirement benefits in place of his or her own and at no cost to the former spouse.


As people grow older, it is more likely that their parents will have died and left them money or valuable properties. Inheritances are considered non-marital properties unless the recipient co-mingled the inherited property with his or her marital property. Possessing valuable non-marital properties such as an inheritance can also affect spousal maintenance payments and how marital properties are divided.

Divorce After 55

For some people, it takes many years of marriage before they decide to divorce. With their children out of the house, they may feel free to make a decision for their own happiness. Approaching retirement can give an increased sense of urgency to start new lives while they are still young enough to enjoy it. A Kane County divorce attorney at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio can prepare you for the challenges of grey divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 331-588-6611.


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