Till death do us part? You’ve done your part. Now you’ve decided not to spend your sunset years with a spouse you’re not close to anymore. You’re hardly alone.
Today, people aged 50 and older make up a quarter of all U.S. divorces. However, many avoid the expensive and messy process younger couples often stumble through. When you’re mature, and the kids aren’t kids anymore, there’s a better way to go separate ways. It’s called collaborative divorce. Find out in this article why collaborative divorce works for people over 50.
Divorce Challenges for Older Couples
Gray divorce — splitting up after age 50 — has seen a sharp rise in recent years. Now that people live longer, they’re reconsidering whether they want to spend their golden years with a spouse from whom they’ve grown apart.
If you’re divorcing later in life, your concerns are probably different from individuals who are 20 years younger than you. You’re not worried about who gets the kids. Instead, you wonder how you’ll disentangle yourself from a life you spent decades building with your spouse; how you’ll sort out the property and assets, divide retirement and pension savings, and assign remaining debts.
You want to change your life without ruining it. Collaborative divorce can help you accomplish this.
How Older Couples Benefit from Collaborative Divorce
Just because you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with someone doesn’t mean you want to punish them 𑁋 nor should you be punished. Unfortunately, traditional divorce seems designed to trigger conflict and acrimony. Spouses are pitted against each other, planning and plotting for months with their separate attorneys resulting in unnecessary arguments and hand-wringing.
Collaborative divorce is a less stressful and more dignified process. It encourages cooperation, transparency, and efficiency. Couples make the decisions, not a judge. By circumventing the family courts, you and your spouse commit to full transparency, and you’ll negotiate your shared and individual interests with help from attorneys and impartial experts.
Collaborative divorce has been so successful that Texas became one of the first states to codify it, passing the Collaborative Family Law Act in 2001.
Here are some reasons why collaboration divorce is a better choice for couples over 50:
It’s More Efficient
Collaborative divorce aims to achieve a more peaceful and mutually satisfying settlement through mediation and cooperation. Each spouse is represented by their own collaborative divorce attorney and joined by neutral experts in finance, retirement, mental health, and any other field specific to the couple’s needs.
For example, there are adult child specialists available to counsel the couple’s grown children and make the process easier for them. The financial neutral evaluates the couple’s finances and provides options to help them make better decisions.
Allowing the couple to work together with attorneys and financial experts in the same room usually results in a faster, more harmonious divorce.
Better Odds of Reconciliation
Divorce can be hurtful in any process. In collaboration, however, time spent in the same room, treating each other with respect and honesty, can make it easier to preserve cordial relations, and rebuild the friendship later.
It’s More Private
People are nosy, and they’re bound to talk when they hear about someone ending a long-lasting marriage. Collaborative divorce proceedings are held in a relaxed setting behind closed doors, not in open court. Also, since no legal paperwork gets filed until a settlement is reached, there’s little risk your pending divorce becomes public record.
Privacy matters, especially if you and your longtime spouse have owned a public business together, or one of you has a high profile in the community. In a traditional litigation divorce, not only might certain filings and motions become public knowledge, you may find the media waiting outside the courtroom.
It’s Less Expensive
Every divorcing couple is different, so it’s impossible to predict how much money you can save by going the collaborative divorce route. However, if you and your spouse are mostly in agreement and negotiations go smoothly, the savings can be significant.
Here are reasons why a collaborative divorce can save you money:
- minimal court costs since it’s not an acrimonious, court-driven process
- collaboration experts, such as a financial neutral, usually charge lower rates than an attorney could for the same services
- a negotiated settlement aims to leave each spouse on better financial footing than a zero-sum, litigation divorce would
For many, choosing a collaborative divorce over a court-driven process can make the difference between retiring as planned or being forced to continue working.
A litigious divorce can drag on for a year or longer, draining your resources along the way. If you’re retired or on a fixed income, you may not have the means or the years to financially recover from an expensive divorce process. If you haven’t retired yet, you might have to keep working so you can afford to pay court-ordered spousal maintenance.
Don’t Litigate When You Can Collaborate
Not all couples receive the memo, but now you have: divorce doesn’t have to be a nasty fight that drains emotions and bank accounts. The collaborative divorce attorneys at Robinson & Henry have experience managing negotiations aimed at amicable, sustainable solutions. Call 214-884-3775 to begin your free case assessment.