No marriage begins with either party hoping for a separation, and it is easy to believe that marriages lasting years or decades are destined never to trend that direction. However, as some Illinois seniors can attest, the phenomenon of the so-called “grey divorce” is becoming more prevalent as time goes on. Divorce in late life includes its own set of unique challenges for those seeking an end to a marriage in the golden years.

Foremost, there is the issue of accrued assets — couples who have been together for years or decades have had the opportunity, individually and as a unit, to accrue considerable assets that may include pensions and 401(K) plans. Dividing those assets is not as cut-and-dried as it may be for younger couples, as quite often the living requirements of each spouse demands a different level of funding due to late-life care. Additionally, some older women often find themselves in difficult straits because they have spent the majority of their lives out of the work force.

The cost of setting up separate households late in life is equally daunting. Attention must be paid to any extraneous care required by one or both spouses now that they will be living alone. It is also rare for those expenses to average out to half the marital earnings.

Ultimately, the more information an Illinois senior has when approaching a late-life divorce, the more likely it will be for that process to be relatively quick and efficient. Gaining a working knowledge of the rights and responsibilities for both spouses can mean the difference between a drawn-out battle and an amicable settlement. This may be particularly important for those divorcing in later life, when every day should be lived to the fullest.

Source:, Divorcing seniors face unique challenges, No author, Jan. 13, 2014