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It Almost Lasted Forever

By Nottage and Ward on January 14, 2018

Who can forget the powerful images of celebration on North Halstead Street, right here in Chicago, on June 26, 2015? That was the day when the United States Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage at a state level were unconstitutional. That ruling was the most significant legal victory for advocates of gay marriage in U.S. history.

But sadly, as with different-sex marriages, some of those relationships won’t last. According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, on average, 1.1% of same-sex couples dissolve their legal relationships each year. This rate is lower than the annual divorce rate for married different-sex couples (2%).

That may sound like a small number, but a federal estimate from 2014 determined that there were 183,280 same-sex marriages in the U.S. That means that around 2,000 same-sex marriages end in divorce each year.

Another aspect of those divorces is that many of them occur to couples who have been longtime partners. Couples splitting late in life are commonly referred to as having a “gray divorce.” Here are a couple of things to keep in mind if you or someone you know is considering a gray divorce.

Financial Footing Is Uncertain

When any couple divorces, many aspects of their finances are up in the air, and both spouses usually experience setbacks. But with older couples, this may directly affect long-term savings accounts, investments, property, retirement funds—any number of finances that have accrued over many decades together. Recovering from this loss is much more difficult later in life. In some cases, one has to go back to the workforce, or consider living with one’s children. And there are no guarantees regarding how the assets will be split up.

Health Issues

We all know that as we get older, health concerns become all too real. This is likely something that wasn’t discussed or even thought about much at the beginning of the marriage, in the romantic whirlwind of youth. But issues may arise that will be a consideration in the divorce negotiations. Perhaps someone has recently recovered from surgery, and the other partner was a caregiver for some time, unable to work. There may be bills to pay that will be significant for years to come. How does that split up? Was there only a verbal promise to share the costs and manage the aid in recovery?

And what about health insurance? Were the partners insured separately, or was one person reliant upon the other’s health coverage, maybe through a job that he or she had?

As you can see, there are serious issues to think about when divorcing later in life for couples of all sexual preferences. If you’re contemplating a gray divorce, you should contact the experienced team of Nottage and Ward, LLP, for legal advice. Call us at (312) 332-2915 to speak to a Chicago gray divorce lawyer.

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