What has been called the "gray divorce" is on the upswing, as more couples in Falls Church and nationwide age 50 and up are deciding to end their marriages. That being said, the divorce issues older couples face may look very different from the issues younger couples face. For example, a couple over age 50 may not need to make child custody decisions if their children are adults. However, property division may become more problematic, since over the course of their marriage they may have amassed a good deal of assets. This may especially be true when it comes to retirement plans.
Retirement plans are often some of the most valuable assets a couple owns. Dividing them, however, can be tricky. Each spouse is relying on retaining as many retirement assets as possible. This is especially true if they are still working, because as they age the fewer years they have to save for retirement. In the end, it is important that retirement assets are divided as fairly as possible, so neither spouse is at an unfair disadvantage moving forward.
One way older couples may wish to settle this and other divorce issues is through a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse and their attorneys will meet with the goal of reaching a settlement that is acceptable to both sides. It is non-adversarial; there are no "winners" and "losers" in a collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, the spouses and their attorneys will agree in writing to reach a settlement. If this does not happen and the spouses must ultimately litigate their divorce, they will have to do so with new attorneys. So, there is incentive among all participants in a collaborative divorce to make the process work. When an older couple is dividing valuable assets like retirement plans, a collaborative divorce can help them walk away with what they believe to be a fair share of what was once marital property.
Older couples seeking a divorce face unique issues compared to those younger couples may experience. Collaborative law, however, can help couples of any age untangle their divorce issues and come to an agreeable settlement. And when a spouse is satisfied with his or her divorce settlement, he or she can move forward into the future with a more positive outlook.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Retirement: 'Gray divorce' can break up retirement plans," Eileen Ambrose, March 21, 2018