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Why collaborative divorce can be so invaluable to divorcing couples

This week, our firm would like to discuss a recently published piece in The Chicago Tribune discussing the financial impact of so-called gray divorce and the benefits of pursuing collaborative divorce that features insight from none other than our firm's founding attorney.

According to the article, gray divorce rates, meaning those splits involving older couples, have nearly doubled from 1990 to 2013, and are continuing to climb. Indeed, experts indicate that these numbers typically spike during the first few months of the year in light of New Year's resolutions and Valentine's Day.

While these numbers are somewhat surprising, at least one researcher has also found that the financial impact of gray divorce seems to affect women disproportionately.  

Susan Brown, a professor at Bowling Green State University, has determined that 30 percent of divorced women age 62 and older who remain single live either at or below the federal poverty line, while 14 percent of divorced men age 62 and older who remain single live either at or below the federal poverty line. (By comparison, Brown found that only 4 percent of married couples live at or below the federal poverty line.)  

Experts indicate that figures like these can perhaps be attributed to the fact that many older couples are not only choosing to resolve their divorces in costly and time-consuming court battles, but also putting greater emphasis on current cash flow and everyday assets as opposed to things like retirement accounts.  

The good news, however, is that it appears as if more people -- especially women -- are starting to not only recognize, but also utilize the process of collaborative divorce, which can make it much easier to ensure that the financial interests of both spouses are protected going forward.

To recap, in collaborative divorce, a couple is provided with both established ground rules and a roadmap setting forth how their constructive discussions -- all of which are overseen by a neutral third party -- will unfold. This environment, in turn, facilitates a constructive dialogue and leads to mutually acceptable solutions.

As our founding attorney Wendy Wood pointed out in the Tribune article, the relative peace achieved by the collaborative divorce process can prove to be very important, particularly when older couples are faced with the sometimes difficult tasks of dividing illiquid assets.

To learn more about the collaborative divorce process, please visit our website.

Source: The Contra Costa Times, "How divorce after 50 may affect your retirement savings," Janet Kidd Stewart, Feb. 13, 2015

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