A gray divorce is a euphemism for people getting divorced who are over the age of 50. The issues that need to be resolved are different in a gray divorce than in divorces between younger couples. Since there are generally no minor children, the main issue the couple faces is division of assets. Too often, one party may try to hide assets from the other.
Financial Issues Facing Those Experiencing a Gray Divorce
The divorcing gray couple have generally been together for a longer period of time and have accumulated more assets than those who are younger. Their children are grown, so the primary divorce issues revolve around asset and liability division and possibly spousal support.
A Collaborative Divorce makes it easier for each party to lay all their cards on the table, as the saying goes. They know that if they avoid standard litigation by participating in the collaborative process, they can keep their financial documents from being part of the public court record and therefore private. This is often a priority for a couple that has accumulated substantial wealth.
Collaborative Divorce Can Prevent Assets from Being Hidden
In a Collaborative Divorce, the parties are reminded that they have a fiduciary duty to each other which means all property, all assets, must be disclosed. The team of professionals that work with the couple help them understand that by collaborating honestly, they will save substantial money over the costs of going to court in a litigated divorce. As a financial neutral in the collaborative process, we have the responsibility of reviewing the financial documents and discovering if there has been dishonesty and not all assets have been disclosed. If it is discovered that one party has not been forthright, the collaborative process may still continue if the person responsible for trying to hide assets accepts responsibility for the dishonesty and both parties are genuinely willing to continue with the collaboration.
In many cases, the financial neutral is also a tax professional who can help determine the best way to divide assets so that each party’s tax liability is minimized. Tax professionals also help divide income and help determine how to allot spousal support when that is an issue.
In addition to avoiding the high costs of a litigated divorce, when the couple works together with a team of professionals, the length of the divorce process is generally much shorter than the time it takes for litigation, which is often prolonged due to answering discovery and waiting for available court dates. In the end the benefits of the Collaborative Divorce process to a gray divorce couple make this an option that every divorcing couple should consider for handling their divorce.