Divorce over 50

Divorce for this group presents unique challenges: due to age and their years (or not) remaining in the workforce, a careful discussion and planning regarding their financial situation,  thorough disclosure to assure that both spouses know and understand the effect of divorce on their economic well-being, is absolutely essential. Often a mediator with financial divorce certification should be involved to calculate and explain financial realities before the couple considers divorce.

An alternative to divorce could involve a discussion of a legal financial separation instead of divorce, especially if there has been financial mishandling or abuse by one spouse or a chronic behavioral addiction which could expose the family to a lawsuit and financial drainage. A legal financial separation would separate households and finances but the couple could remain under the same roof. In New York State couples can remain separated in perpetuity.

Another benefit of legal separation is that both parties can remain under the family Health insurance if they are not already on Medicaid or Medicare individually. For example, if there is a preexisting condition the affected party may not be able to secure adequate coverage. I recently legally separated a lovely couple for that very reason.  The husband has cancer and has many medical expenses which Medicare may not fully cover.  Through the younger Wife’s good health insurance, he is able to have all of his medical needs and treatment covered. The Wife was in a relationship with another but could not marry again because of her commitment to her husband’s guarantee of quality and comprehensive health care. I continue to see in my mediated separation or divorces, kindness, and much decency in the way couples treat one another even at times of division.

In marriages of long duration, where one spouse handles finances and is more comfortable with numbers, the other spouse may feel vulnerable, uneasy and left out, even if that was not evident during the marriage. I had a very well-to-do couple where the husband in late seventies thought that because he was retired and not earning income in what he considered the “traditional” sense, there was no money to divide. That very year which the wife was divorcing the husband, he was asked by two of his employers to start withdrawing from his retirement funds or risk losing his money. The Wife, on the other hand, was the spouse in charge of billing and all financial investments. She knew exactly where they stood financially. She also, understood his resistance to divide any portfolio simply because he did not understand numbers.

Another source of significant value for couples already retired is their income from retirement and pensions. Many couples over fifty with whom I have collaborated are already at near retirement age. Sometimes one spouse is much younger and also the lower income spouse perhaps entitled to spousal support. The equitable division of the retirement will negatively affect the income of the retired spouse. In all my mediation, I put on the table the doctrine of fairness, to help couples ask themselves and then to make decisions.  Mediating since 2001, I use experience, extensive divorce mediation training, and my credentials as a divorce financial analysis and a mediation attorney to dissolve marriages.  I am honored to hear your divorce story and to be selected as your mediator.

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