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Mediation in Gray Divorce

Mediation in Gray Divorce | Divorce Strategies NW

Couples have different values when defining a successful marriage. Some prioritize stability, family, or financial achievement, while others may focus solely on commitment. Every married couple has a “dance” of how their relationship works. For many reasons, a couple’s “dance” may come to an end. As their golden years approach, many spouses are reconsidering spending the rest of their lives together.

No matter what stage of life you’re in, divorce is never easy. But when you’re past a certain age, divorce can be especially complicated and problematic. Older couples who have been together for a long while typically have deeper social, family, and financial ties to one another, and a lifetime of earnings can mean that there are significant assets at stake in divorce. How those assets are divided can raise questions about what you may be owed and what financial issues should be considered.

Why is Late-in-Life Divorce on the Rise?

Many reasons contribute to the decision to divorce later in life, sometimes called twilight divorce or gray divorce. Modern medicine and improved living conditions have led to longer lifespans, meaning people can reach retirement age and still live another 20 or 30 years.

Gray Divorce is often impacted by the following factors:

Retirement

Retirement is often a big adjustment for both spouses. Couples who have seen each other for a few hours each evening are suddenly spending every moment together, disrupting long-established routines. Leaving employment can also cause fear of not being needed, a loss of identity, or depression.

Economic Independence

Fewer women rely on their husbands for financial security today than in previous years, allowing them to leave unhappy or unsatisfying marriages without suffering enormous losses.

Younger Generations

The older generation may be taking its cues from their children who have left the nest. Parents may be sympathetic when their children go through a divorce, or children may realize that one or both parents are unhappy.

Personal Fulfillment

The culture of marriage has shifted in recent decades, focusing on the couple as separate people instead of one fused unit. Spouses may reevaluate their feelings and discover that they are happier alone or are sacrificing too much to stay in the marriage.

Gray divorces are more likely to end amicably because partners have the maturity to recognize that it’s time to move on. Spouses who have known each other for decades and have built a life together typically are not motivated by anger or a need to punish one another in divorce proceedings, and can often part as friends.

Spouses who have known each other for decades and have built a life together typically are not motivated by anger or a need to punish one another in divorce proceedings, and can often part as friends.

-Leah Hill, Founder + CEO, Divorce Strategies Northwest

Mediation is often the best choice for a twilight divorce for partners who have:

Solid Cooperation

Years of coordinating work schedules, doctor’s appointments, and child-care can strengthen collaboration between long-term partners. These spouses’ reactions to problems are usually focused on developing a solution that works for everyone rather than a plan that benefits only themselves.

Adult Children

Children of couples in gray divorce may be in their 20s or older, so these cases typically do not require child support payments or shared custody issues.

No Outstanding Debt

Cars, loans, and family home(s) may already be paid off, making the division of shared debt much more manageable.

Concern About Estate Plans

Divorce can have a significant impact on any wills and trusts created during the marriage. Based on the decisions made in mediation, an attorney can revise your estate plan to ensure that your wishes are honored upon your passing.

Asset Division in Washington Divorce

A primary concern late-life divorce is financial stability. Since Washington State is a community property state, most assets that you or your partner have acquired since marriage belong to both of you in equal share. This can seriously affect your finances, as well as your retirement plan(s). One of the biggest challenges can be disentangling your finances from those of your spouse, and doing so fairly. The more assets you have and the more deeply they are intertwined, the more complex your case.

Some issues to consider include:

  • Retirement plans: Retirement plans are usually considered community property and will typically be divided equally, unless you and your spouse can negotiate a mutually agreeable way to split the accounts.
  • Social security benefits: You may be entitled to a portion of your spouse’s social security benefits, under certain conditions. They must be eligible to receive benefits and be 62 or over, unmarried, and your benefits must be less than what you would receive by claiming theirs.
  • Real estate: Dividing up real estate can be a difficult process, especially if you own multiple properties such as vacation homes, rentals, or other investment properties. Carefully evaluate what you’re willing to give up in exchange for other assets or benefits.
  • Spousal maintenance: Spousal maintenance may be granted if your spouse is still employed, but it may not last long if retirement is quickly approaching. You may negotiate for something else, such as a larger portion of a joint retirement plan.

Flexibility and creativity with asset division can expedite the divorce process, leaving both parties less polarized. You have a right to a certain portion of the marital assets and property. The best thing you can do is work with trusted professionals and educate yourself.

Even if you and your spouse are on good terms, selecting a reputable, experienced mediator is essential to “set the tone” for cooperation. Complex issues require careful consideration, consulting expert advice and asking judicious questions. As you determine next steps, follow Washington State Community Property Laws, while preserving civility, respect and kindness. Our leadership, wisdom, and holistic process empowers both parties and sets you up for success.

Your Trusted Partner

Whether you’re contemplating a divorce, have already started the process, or are far into the proceedings, do you wish you had someone to share with you the inside scoop on how to save money, time, and emotional energy on your divorce?

Our team is available for Support On-Demand to discuss the many scenarios, options, and implications of separation or divorce, via telephone or videoconference during this time. Feel free to get in touch with us; we are here for you!

Leah Hill Email Signature | Divorce Strategies NW

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