Mediation and seniors are a great match for resolving grey divorces and separations. A grey divorce is popular term for a divorce involving people aged 55 and over.
Many couples choose to separate or divorce after being married for 20 or 30 years. Statistics Canada supports this trend: In 2008 41.6% of divorces were for marriages that lasted between 10-24 years; 16.4% were for marriages longer than 25 years.
As a Divorce Coach, I had a client in their late 60’s who told me that she wanted to divorce her husband because she wanted to make the most of the time she had left. While she worried about how her husband would get along without her, she wanted the freedom to make decisions for herself.
While divorce can be difficult, both emotionally and financially, there are some advantages to divorcing in one’s later years.
Firstly, child support is far less likely to be an issue when the children are older and self-supporting.
Secondly, when a couple has a reasonable “nest egg”, or more than one property, it can make dividing the assets and moving out easier.
Socially, it can be easier to move out of the family home when friends and neighbours are also “downsizing”. Moreover, there is not the same pressure to keep the home “for the kids”.
When finances are already tight, however, it can be difficult to set up new housing for both parties.
In some cases, parties relocate to more affordable towns or cities, to set up a new home that is more affordable. Others enjoy the flexibility of renting, and not having to pay a mortgage household repairs.
It can, however, be difficult to share or divide one pension. This is particularly the case when one partner has been the primary earner, and the other has been the primary caregiver and homemaker. There is attachment not only to the money, and security, but also to the values that each role held.
Spousal support can also be difficult to discuss in relation to retirement–particularly if either person has health issues that diminish their earning potential.
These are just some of the most common Financial Considerations in divorce.
Clients in mediation are sometimes surprised at how all of these issues are intertwined. Feelings, thoughts, plans, and expectations are all wrapped up with financial changes and decision making.
A good Mediator will draw out what is important to both parties, and help them generate solutions. It is a process of give and take, and prioritizing. A Family Law Mediator, such as Michael Butterfield, has the legal expertise to keep the mediation process fair and balanced.
Jayne Embree holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. She is currently working as the Mediation Co-ordinator for Victoria Mediation Services.