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The basics of a gray divorce

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2022 | Divorce |

Divorce can be an emotionally draining and financially taxing situation. Even seemingly simple marriage dissolutions can end up being drawn-out legal battles. When the spouses are older or have been married for many years, their legal separation is commonly referred to as a gray divorce. Here are some factors and considerations when going through a gray divorce. 

The age of the spouses

Often, the parties involved in a gray divorce are in their 50s or 60s. Members of previous generations might have remained married at all costs, including to the detriment of a couple’s mental and emotional wellbeing. Within more recent years, however, older people no longer believe it is necessary to stay in unhealthy or unwanted relationships. 

Due to spousal ages, if they had children together, it’s likely that those children are now adults. While that doesn’t make divorce any easier on a family, it means that things like child custody issues may not be of concern in instances of gray divorce.

Grounds for divorce

As with any divorce regardless of how old spouses are, Illinois is a no-fault divorce state. That means that there is no burden of proving any grounds for divorce other than irreconcilable differences. In the past, someone might have had to show evidence and prove a reason for seeking divorce such as infidelity or spousal abuse. Today, that is no longer the case and couples may get divorced for common issues such as growing apart over time.


Since these couples are older and have been married for sometimes several decades, spousal assets are another important factor in gray divorce. In addition to common items like primary residences or vacation homes, there might also be business assets including one, both or collective spouses. Bank accounts might also be larger and more complicated to divide. 

Retirement and financial planning

Besides things like property, vehicles and other common assets, planning for the future more heavily comes into play in gray divorces. Couples often have retirement and pension plans, sometimes even multiple retirement accounts that have to be divided. While financial planning might have been set up with both spouses in mind, developing a new financial plan for each individual becomes key.

Other considerations for people who have not yet retired include health insurance. Many times spouses are covered under a partner’s employee-sponsored healthcare. With divorce, changes in health coverage must be taken into account.