My family law practice handles a sizeable number of “grey divorces.” “Grey divorce” clients have been married to their respective spouses for decades. Over the years, through season after season, their relationships have evolved and changed. At some point, these changes have meant an end to the vows of staying together until “death do us part.” Statistics indicate that there has been a rise of divorces amongst people over the age of 50 years old. As the life expectancy of humans has increased because of advances in medicine and science, the more these clients lean into the idea that marriage does not have to be forever. There are many underlying reasons that can trigger divorce amongst these individuals. The couple may feel less connected to each other after their children have grown-up and left the home. The partners may have found relationships outside of the marriage that fulfill them in ways that their current spouse does not. They may face difficult disagreements regarding finances and debt. Yet no matter what the reasons are, the Collaborative Divorce process ushers my clients into new expressions of themselves in a very dignified and compassionate way.
This approach gently unravels an intricate pattern that has been woven together from decades of togetherness. Such threads usually involve complex assets, retirement funds, as well as financial commitments to adult children’s education. And while these clients have a long history with their spouses and spent much of their lives connected to them, there is still a need to craft the emotional tools necessary to sustain a healthy relationship with each other after the marriage has ended.
The “team-based” approach in the Collaborative Divorce process is essential to meeting these objectives. The team consists of divorce attorneys as well as a therapist and financial planner. They each implement their own skills and knowledge to help these couples enter into the next phase of their lives. While the divorce attorneys help navigate their clients through the legal aspects of the divorce, the therapist provides a cradle for these folks. They lead the team through a series of sessions to help each partner develop the tools necessary to heal and cope with the split, plan for the future, as well as find solutions that allow these families to remain as cohesive unit. The financial planner provides an analysis of the couple’s assets, retirement accounts and provides strategies that enable the financial health of each partner. Undoubtedly, the Collaborative Divorce process is the best means of helping these individuals through a very difficult, oftentimes turbulent time in their lives with attention and care.