At a time when divorce rates for most age groups have either dropped or remained stable, 50+ age Americans have been divorcing at a rate of 15%. That’s more than double the 2.8% rate 25 years ago. The phenomenon termed the “Gray Divorce” has brought with it new challenges for the legal system as the majority of these divorcees were married for 20 years or longer.
The Factors Driving the “Gray Divorce”
After 20 + years of marriage, those couples that stayed married for the sake of the kids have reached the point in their lives where the kids are grown, moved out, and couples are no longer willing to settle for a dull, loveless marriage. Thanks to medical advances, people are living longer. Divorce no longer carries the stigma it once did. Older women have more financial independence and don’t have to stay in an unfulfilling marriage.
An older married couple is more likely to be able to amicably reach a divorce agreement with the guidance of trained legal, financial, and psychological professionals outside of court. The process is known as a Collaborative divorce and is a relatively new option for couples to avoid the costs, time, and emotional strain involved in litigation.
Benefits of a Collaborative divorce
A Collaborative divorce for older couples should take less time than a traditional divorce and litigation, and court fees can be avoided because:
- Older couples don’t have to deal with custody and child support issues.
- Both partners are likely to have retirement funds, pension plans, shared financial assets, and material possessions, so the majority of the divorce process will be negotiating the division of marital assets and debts.
- An older woman may require alimony because it would be difficult to enter the workforce at this stage in life. Working with your ex-spouse to reach a fair alimony amount ensures you both won’t end up in financial matters.
Steps You Can Take to Prepare for a Collaborative Divorce
Once you and your spouse have agreed to proceed with a divorce, you should each:
- Hire your attorney that understands the collaborative negotiation and mediation process.
- Meet with your attorney to let them know what you are willing to accept, what you cannot take, and what to which you can compromise. Your attorney needs to know your position of each of the legal issues and your limits in order to guide you through the agreement process properly.