The Benefits of Collaborative Divorce for Older Couples
Divorce is often associated with younger couples having trouble navigating the responsibilities of family and developing careers. Divorce at this stage in life, while painful, is often relatively straightforward, outside of child custody concerns, since the complexity of assets the spouses own collectively is usually limited. On the other side, couples who weathered decades of marriage are rarely seen as risking divorce, but in fact, the fastest growing divorce rates in the country are for spouses in the retirement stage, with the rate doubling for those over 55 and tripling for spouses past 65. Couples at this stage in their life have different priorities and concerns compared with spouses in the first decade of marriage, and often have more to lose if a traditional divorce is filed. An alternative that is likely more suitable to an older couple’s needs is collaborative divorce. This non-adversarial approach to negotiating the end of a marriage can help to amicably sort through complex financial holdings and restricted living arrangements related to age. A discussion of the advantages collaborative divorce can offer to older couples seeking divorce will follow below.
The Danger of Traditional Divorce
Traditional, court-driven divorce is designed to foster contention and to take increasing amounts of time depending on the number and complexity of outstanding issues. While older couples rarely have dependent children to fight over, they do often have substantial and numerous assets that can take a lot of time and wrangling back and forth to resolve. The longer a divorce case takes to work itself through the court system, the more money the spouses will spend, and divorce will inherently put their financial security at risk with the added stress of high legal fees and costs. Many older couples are already on fixed incomes, and do not have years to recover financially from the fallout of divorce. Consequently, dividing retirement funds, meant to support one and now being asked to support two, will likely require hard choices, such as selling the family home or significantly reducing one’s standard of living. Collaborative divorce can mitigate some of the financial repercussions, and give each spouse more secure footing to start the next stage of their life.
Benefits of the Collaborative Process
The collaborative approach is focused on asking couples to work together to settle issues related to divorce, in concert with a team of specially trained professionals who are present to facilitate the creation of an agreement. The financial expert and collaborative divorce attorney are particularly important for older couples seeking divorce, as these individuals can better understand how best to structure a property settlement and/or alimony payment to prevent the divorce from financially ruining one or both parties. The financial neutral acts as an educator, and provides the couple with options with regard to their financial situation so they can make informed decisions. This education is especially important in marriages where one spouse had little or no knowledge of the couple’s finances, a more prevalent situation in older individuals. Collaborative divorce requires each spouse to agree to fully and freely disclose all relevant financial information, which may be the first time one spouse really gets a sense of what he/she collectively owns. By using the collaborative process, instead of fighting over assets, couples are encouraged to talk through their concerns, so a fair and acceptable agreement is reached.
Contact a Collaborative Divorce Attorney
Divorce does not need to be a nasty, drawn out fight that drains your emotions and bank account. An alternative that helps to maintain a relationship after the marriage is over, and promote an amicable solution, is collaborative divorce. The attorneys at Goodblatt ∙ Leo have extensive experience in this non-adversarial method, and are available to discuss if it would be appropriate for you. Contact the Orlando law firm at (407) 228-7007 for a consultation.