Divorce at any age is never easy. However, when divorcing spouses have shared several decades and have decided to part ways in the later years of life, the situation is sure to be even more difficult.
Spouses who head to divorce court late in life are more likely to have much more complicated assets and family structures than their younger counterparts who may be separating after less than a decade of marriage. In addition to dealing with more complicated financial matters, older couples who choose divorce often must also deal with fallout from their adult children who may not want to accept their decision.
If you and your spouse have decided to choose divorce court instead of a golden anniversary celebration, this proactive advice can help you avoid some of the conflict and end up with a more congenial outcome for the entire family.
Break the news together
The news that parents are divorcing late in life is likely to be a shock for even the most well-adjusted child in the family. This is often true, even when adult children were aware of discord between their parents while growing up.
While there are sure to be tears and expressions of disbelief or disagreement, divorcing spouses who can agree to present a united front to their children at the time of their announcement may be better positioned to avoid any uncomfortable outbursts and "he said, she said" accusations.
Adult children who have questions or concerns about the announcement their parents have made should be encouraged to meet with one or both parents at a later date. During that later meeting, the divorcing parents can provide any answers or information they choose to provide and help their child understand why the decision is the right one.
During the initial announcement, divorcing parents can help to calm their children by helping them see that the decision is a mutual one and that efforts will still be made to continue family celebrations and customs.
If possible, it is a good idea to provide adult children with information at that time about future living arrangements and plans for each spouse. This type of information will be helpful in ensuring that adult children understand that the decision was carefully considered and agreed upon by both spouses.
Divide assets equitably
Divorcing later in life typically means that there will more likely be considerable assets to divide, including real estate, cash, jewelry, automobiles, and retirement or pension income. If one or both spouses are no longer working, there may also be financial arrangements to make for their temporary support until the divorce settlement is final.
Husbands and wives seeking a divorce late in life can avoid conflict by being fair and equitable in creating a plan for the division of these assets. As part of this division process, divorcing spouses will also want to review their wills, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and any durable or other power of attorney documentation and make any changes that may be needed to move ahead as a single person.
Maintain separate representation
One of the most common mistakes that older couples make when seeking a divorce is opting to share the same attorney. Using one attorney to handle the legal needs of both spouses puts all parties in a difficult situation, especially during contentious negotiations, such as those that take place during the creation of a fair and equitable financial settlement.
Instead, both parties should seek to hire an attorney they trust as soon as the decision to divorce has been reached. Taking this proactive step means that both spouses will be able to freely and confidently discuss their concerns regarding the terms of the divorce settlement.
To learn more, contact a law form like Katzman Logan Halper & Bennett.