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Divorce rate has more than doubled for people age 55 and over

When you think back to the day you got married, you might have mixed emotions. On one hand, it might seem as though that day was centuries ago. On the other, it might feel like only yesterday and leave you wondering where time has gone. Either way, if your marriage failed to unfold the way you'd hoped, you might be one of many Illinois spouses who analyze their situations and wish they'd done some things differently.

For instance, many spouses say they stayed in unhappy relationships far too long. While their motives were unselfish, perhaps staying put for their kids' sake, as they age, they wind up saying they wish they had moved on earlier in life. The term "gray divorce" refers to people who file for divorce at age 55 or beyond. Doing so often creates numerous challenges, which is why it's so important to build a strong support network from the start.

Here's what the baby boomers are saying

You're the only one who really knows what transpired between you and your spouse through the years. However, you might be able to relate to the ideas included on the following list, which many people in  your age group have cited as influential factors in their late in life divorces:

  • People generally live longer nowadays than they used to, which means spouses typically have to stay together a lot longer. Many older people say this presents problems in their marital relationships.
  • Many spouses, especially women, say the feel entitled to happiness in life and are not willing to stay in unhappy relationships when moving on is what they believe will help them have a higher quality life.
  • There's less negative stigma attached to divorce than there used to be, which leaves many spouses feeling more comfortable with their decisions to go their separate ways.
  • There are more opportunities today for both spouses to earn incomes. Again, women, in particular, are more confident than they were several decades ago in believing they can be financially independent and do not need to rely on a spouse to get by.

Regardless of the exact problems that caused irreparable damage in your marriage, whether there was an affair, lack of affection, financial disagreements or you simply feel you are no longer compatible, divorce isn't easy. Especially if you're age 55 or older, the fact that you've likely acquired more assets and have a more complex financial life than you did when you married can spark complications when you try to negotiate a settlement.

Tap into that support network you hopefully built

It's helpful to talk to trusted friends or family members who have gone through similar experiences. Those who encountered specific financial or property division challenges may have some sage advice as you prepare to build a new lifestyle after decades of marriage.

Many spouses also ask experienced family law attorneys to review their cases to make sure they are using the best strategies available to protect their interests and achieve a fair and agreeable outcome.

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