Our Seattle Divorce Lawyers are Experienced in All “Gray Divorce” Matters
Gray divorce generally refers to divorces involving couples over the age of 50. Interestingly, studies have indicated that the rate of divorce among couples in their 50’s and 60’s has risen dramatically in the last several decades. Our Seattle family lawyers work with many “gray divorces” and are here to tackle some of the more complex divorce issues that arise when couples separate later in life.
A History Together
A couple divorcing late in life typically has a long history together. When that is the case it means there is a stronger likelihood that they feel more responsible for each other than a couple that has been together a shorter time. Our Seattle divorce attorneys have often seen in gray divorces that there is less animosity, but rather simply a recognition that it is time to move into this new stage of life separately. Partners who have been together for many years, sharing life’s ups and downs, typically do not want to punish the other. Instead they generally care about the other even while not being ready to spend the rest of their lives together.
For such couples, much of the work is trying to develop the best plan for both, rather than fighting to “win” the best settlement for themselves. For those couples I like to suggest using a Collaborative Divorce process.
Collaborative Divorce For Older Couples
I have noticed that a large percentage of the couples who work with our Seattle family lawyers in a Collaborative Divorce are older. I believe there are several reasons for this. One reason is the shared history that leaves them more cooperatively minded, another is the retirement that has to be carefully planned for, and a third is the assets which have been accumulated also increase the need for careful financial planning.
In a Collaborative Divorce each party has a divorce attorney to support them, a shared financial specialist to help them make informed financial decisions, and a shared divorce coach to assist with communication issues.
Higher Value Assets Often Require the Assistance of Legal and Financial Professionals
Couples in their 50’s and 60’s have had many years to accumulate assets. On the other hand, these assets may be their main source of income in the retirement years. The combination of high assets and the need to depend on those assets means there is a strong need for good financial planning to both protect and maximize the benefits from those assets. Even if you are not choosing a Collaborative Divorce, our Seattle family lawyers can give you the names of some financial specialists we work with.
Working with a financial specialist can help the couple make good decisions about splitting those assets. Likely this will mean each party leaving with a well-rounded mix of housing, retirement, and other financial assets. It also means each party should be looking at the long term risks and growth potential of their assets and not being to ready to forgo or sell off long term assets for short term gain.
Retirement and Other Investment Accounts
Retirement is often both a factor and an issue in gray divorces. It can be a factor leading to divorce as couples contemplate the changes in their lives that retirement often creates. Retirement can be a big adjustment. There can be a lot more time together than many people are used to, and be disruptive to routines. It means needing to find new interests and outlets for energy that used to be consumed by work. Leaving one’s job can even lead to a feeling of loss of identity, which can lead to depression.
Retirement can also be an issue in gray divorces as couples need to wrestle with questions like living on fixed incomes, how pensions and IRA’s are divided and how to best conserve the resources they have accumulated. Talk to a Seattle divorce lawyer for more information about dealing with these kinds of issues.
Our Seattle Divorce Lawyers Can Assist with Spousal Support Calculations for Senior Couples
If at least one party is still working, there may be a need to negotiate spousal support for a period of time. However, this support should be treated as tentative rather than relied upon. A good way of looking at it is that sharing of income is a way of balancing the financial situation of the parties going forward, but at the same time that income situation is uncertain. Especially for older workers, it may be very difficult to find new employment if something happens to the current job. Health issues are more frequent with age. People also generally want to preserve their right to retire when the timing seems right.
Therefore an approach to alimony our Seattle divorce law firm often use may focus more on sharing a percentage of income as it comes in rather than making an agreement to a fixed amount for a fixed period of time.
Navigating Healthcare Concerns in Gray Divorce
As mentioned above, health issues become a larger part of life as we age. One should expect that not only will their ability to work and remain active decline over time, but that there may come a point where expensive care is needed. Therefore a financial specialist may advise various strategies for remaining financial flexible to be able to adapt to changing needs, while also preserving/growing assets for the long term.
The Impact on Adult Children in Gray Divorces
While couples often wait to start their divorce until after their children are grown in order to protect the children from the divorce, adult children are still very much affected by their parents’ divorce. Therefore even while a parenting plan may not be needed, the needs of the adult children should still be considered in the divorce. We suggest discussing your adult children’s needs and roles in your lives with your Seattle family lawyer along with all of the other divorce issues.
These needs MIGHT include some financial help down the line, but other issues to consider are the need for the children to keep good relationships with both parents, to not be dragged into any conflict between the parents or be asked to take sides.
Also, recognize that typically the parental unit has been their foundation, and having that foundation crumble will rock their world as well. This may be expressed through anger or sadness. It is be important to talk to your children non-judgmentally about how the divorce may be affecting them, to give them an opportunity to voice their feelings as well as to ask questions.
Contact a Gray Divorce Lawyer at Seattle Divorce Services for Comprehensive Divorce Services
If you are considering divorce, give us a call at 206-784-3049 or use our contact form to set up an initial consultation with our law firm. At that time we can answer questions and give you more information about your divorce process options. Our divorce lawyers have both phone and video conference consultations available.