Happy New Year. We’ve been away from our blog for some months, owing to a really wonderful experience teaching Mediation Theory and Skills at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Now we are “back in the saddle” full time.
We’ve had the chance to reflect on several issues in our practice, which we will address here and in upcoming blogs.
Today’s installment: Working with couples who are divorcing late in life, after a long marriage.
For over a decade, we have noted that dividing up the assets, at the end of a multi-decade relationship, often seems simpler and less contentious than when the kids are young or careers are still taking off. Such couples, cliched or not, seem to consistently bring wisdom and perspective to their conversations, not to mention a wish to see the other thrive as the marriage itself ends. The compassion we often observe drives parties toward dividing the assets, often equally, but even then, taking in to account each one’s future earning abilities and goals for how to live the later phases of life. They may never pursue a legal divorce, rather, they may live independently of one another, in order to take advantage of tax benefits and health insurance. There may be a very real consideration, for both, of living on a fixed income post-retirement. An interesting component of mediating the dissolution of long-term marriages, is often the input of the adult children. Their values about how each parent treats the other can influence the final settlement. As couples age, retire and consider how they wish to shape their futures, there is, of course, pain, but often less contentiousness and anxiety. A shared history, in other words, informs a fair and even kind-hearted result.
Here are other perspectives, from the LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-rivers-barnett-gray-divorce-20160928-snap-story.html
and from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2016/03/19/469824356/boomers-face-a-divorce-revolution-but-some-can-learn-from-happy-couples