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Are “Empty Nesters” More Likely to Get a Divorce? 

 Posted on October 08, 2019 in Divorce

Cook County divorce lawyer for empty nestersThe term “empty nesters” refers to a couple whose children have left home (or the “nest”) to attend college or move into their own house after starting a career. Although many spouses relish their newfound freedom from parental responsibility, other partners may dread it for various reasons. Two people who were madly in love in their 20s may realize after decades of being married that they have nothing in common now that they are in their 50s. Their feelings toward each other might have gradually changed over the years, so much so that they now are considering a divorce. Statistics show an increase in divorce for couples age 50 and over, and the trigger is often when their children leave home.

Reasons For Empty Nest Syndrome

Raising kids is not easy, but before you know it, they are 18 and headed off to college. After focusing so much attention on the children, problems between the spouses may become more apparent. In some cases, parents decide to stay together for the sake of the children, even though they are unhappy. Many people think divorcing will cause irreparable emotional damage to their kids, so they put off a potential split until the children have reached adulthood. 

In some cases, children moving out may lead to life changes that cause a person to seek divorce. If one spouse withdraws from his or her partner and devotes a lot of time to work, hobbies, or friends, that can put a significant rift in the relationship. “Empty nest syndrome” often coincides with mid-life, an age at which many people have a “crisis” or struggle with their identities. This is especially true if one spouse was a stay-at-home parent; now that the children are gone, he or she may feel lost and without a purpose. 

Other mid-life factors that can put a strain on a relationship which may eventually lead to an empty nester divorce include:  

  • Physical changes (menopause for women and lower testosterone for men)

  • Job-related issues (forced retirement or being laid off)

  • Familial duties (elderly/sick parents or family members)

Am I Entitled to Spousal Maintenance After Divorce? 

For empty nesters, it is likely the marriage lasted a long time, and one of the spouses may have not worked outside of the home while raising children. In cases where both spouses worked during the marriage, one might have earned a substantially higher income than his or her partner. A lower-earning spouse may feel that he or she needs financial support from his or her former partner following the separation.

Spousal maintenance is not a given in every divorce. Under Illinois law, a court will consider several issues when determining whether spousal support (alimony) is warranted. If maintenance is awarded, the amount of the payments will be determined based on the actual income earned by each spouse, and the duration the payments will last will depend on the length of the marriage. The purpose of this maintenance is to help an ex-spouse support him or herself and maintain the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage. 

A judge will look at the following factors when making a decision on spousal support:

  • Each spouse’s income and property 

  • Each spouse’s income-earning potential

  • Funds needed by the receiving spouse for education and/or job training

  • Time spent performing household duties by a stay-at-home parent seeking maintenance

  • The couple’s lifestyle during the matrimonial union

  • The duration of the marriage

  • The physical and emotional health of each partner

  • Any agreements between the spouses, such as a prenuptial agreement

Contact a Cook County Divorce and Spousal Support Attorney

Some couples embrace their time together once the kids leave the nest, while others realize they have grown apart. In some cases, the partners may decide to divorce now that their children are old enough to live on their own. After being married for so long, it can be intimidating to think of starting over. That is why you need the help of a compassionate Oak Park divorce lawyer. We can guide you through the proceedings to make sure your rights to marital property and spousal maintenance are protected. To schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your case, call our office today at 708-848-3159.



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