In our experience, divorcing at a later stage in life often comes about as a result of a couple growing apart, perhaps with one party wishing to spend their retirement in a way that differs from the other’s own expectations.
Regardless of the circumstances behind the decision to separate, there are often a number of particular issues relevant to this group of so-called ‘silver splitters’.
Many couples in their 60s and beyond own a home together, and will need to make arrangements for ongoing living arrangements. Often the house is without mortgage but will need to be sold in order to fund separate dwellings. The collaborative law process can help separating couples to decide upon arrangements for selling the house, how the proceeds of sale will be split or alternatively how one party might buy the other out of their share.
Those with older children and/or elderly parents who live in the family home may have an additional challenge when it comes to accommodating everybody’s living arrangements post-divorce. Asking a court to make a decision as to how this could be managed could result in a complicated and possibly impractical order.
However, in these circumstances, the collaborative law process really comes into its own – enabling detailed discussions to take place which facilitate sensible agreements that suit (as far as possible) everybody affected.
If the parties have a range of other assets that have built up during the course of the marriage, the collaborative process enables them to discuss the most appropriate way to share these.
If, for example, one party has a pension and the other does not, it may be possible to separate the fund or come to another arrangement – perhaps via an uneven split of the proceeds of sale of the marital home to raise cash to buy an annuity.
Discretion and sensitivity
Many clients who separate in their 60s and beyond have been married for many years, or married later in life, and want to manage their separation as quickly and discretely as possible. The collaborative law process helps to facilitate this requirement, as it does not require a judge (in a public setting) to make decisions on the separating couple’s behalf.