Divorce is a challenging life event, and when it happens later in life, it can come with unique complexities.
Understanding Later Life Divorce and Its Nuances:
Later life divorce, often referred to as “grey divorce” refers to the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership that occurs when the couple is over 50 years old. Unlike divorce at a younger age, later life divorce will typically involve more significant financial assets to split, such as pensions, investments, inheritance, and retirement savings and there will be less issues connected to parenting.
The Role of Family Mediation in Later Life Divorce:
One common misconception is that family mediation is only for couples with children. This is not the case. Even if you and your spouse do not have children or you have older children that have left the family home, mediation remains a highly effective option to resolve issues related to property division and finances.
Family mediation is a cooperative approach to resolving disputes during a divorce. A neutral third party, the mediator, will facilitate communication between both you and your ex-partner to help you reach mutually acceptable agreements around the issues you need to agree on.
Many older adults have found family mediation to be a valuable alternative to traditional adversarial divorce proceedings. There are many benefits of using family mediation for later life divorce such as:
- Cost-effectiveness: The average cost of divorce through the courts in the UK is £14,561 in legal fees and lifestyle costs and if there’s property involved then the costs significantly increase. However, mediation is much more cost-effective, and generally, you can expect to pay in the region of £600-£1,000 per person in fees, helping you preserve your financial resources for the future.
- Control over the process : Family mediation allows you and your ex to make decisions together, rather than the court deciding, helping to foster a sense of empowerment and cooperation. Mediation also means you keep your personal matters private, sparing you from the public exposure of court hearings.
- Focus on long-term solutions: Family Mediation encourages creative problem-solving that considers the unique needs and concerns of both parties and helps you to shape long-term solutions. A mediator helps you resolve the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation, and only in exceptional cases is no agreement reached.
Important Considerations for Later Life Divorce:
Before proceeding with the divorce, take the time to consider the following:
- Assess your shared financial assets, property and debts: Often one partner has a better understanding of a couple’s finances than the other. Before you can look at how to divide your assets you need to understand what they are worth. So, try to gain an understanding of what you have in your bank accounts, what life insurance policies you have, any investments, your pensions and how much any property is worth, as well as an understanding of any debts you might have.
- Don’t forget about pensions. When you face the end of your marriage or civil partnership, it is important to discuss how your pensions will be shared. A pension can be a valuable asset (sometimes the most valuable asset) that has been built up during your time together. Even though you may be some years away from an age where you can access pension funds, these count as assets, just like money you might have in a bank or savings account. Neglecting this aspect can be a significant mistake, especially if one partner has dedicated their time to raising children and, consequently, has not built up a substantial pension pot compared to the other partner. This discrepancy in pension assets can have far-reaching consequences, making it crucial to address pensions during the divorce process. Read more about pensions and divorce here.
- Budget and plan for your future : Your needs and circumstances could be very different once you have separated, so it’s a good idea to start budgeting for the future life you want to live so you understand what you will need to achieve that. You should also consider updating your will, power of attorney and beneficiaries of pension or life insurances as typically couples name their spouse as the primary beneficiary.
If you are just at the beginning of your divorce or separation journey our ‘Decided To Divorce – What Next‘ page shares some advice on the things you should start to think about.
Navigating a later life divorce can be emotionally and financially challenging, but with the right approach, it can also be an opportunity for growth and a fresh start. Embracing family mediation as a means of resolution can help you move forward with confidence and embrace a new chapter of your life.