When a Long Term Marriage Ends in Divorce

When a Long Term Marriage Ends in Divorce

Divorce_Middle agedOften I meet couples who assure me that they are not candidates for a divorce because they have been married for over 20- 30 or even 40 years.  Having been married for a long time does not guarantee the marriage will not end.  In fact, most of my clients have been married 20 years or more and some even longer.   My clients range in age from early 20’s to over 70 or even older.  I leave it to the sociologists to examine the reason a long term marriage ends in divorce.  This is a discussion of the issues that need to be addressed to divorce after several years of marriage..

The GOOD news about mid-life Divorce

These older couples considering divorce do not have to face the issues surrounding parenting, child support and usually paying for college as all that has already been accomplished and the children are grown and on their own. Often the other good news is that these couples have reached a degree of financial stability so that neither party needs to worry about becoming homeless or on food stamps because of a divorce.  The divorce then becomes a matter of dividing financial assets.

Get divorce counsel early in the process

I am often amused at how reluctant these mature couples are to seek divorce counsel. Perhaps over the years they have developed mistrust for lawyers and are certain that seeing a lawyer leads to “the lawyers will get it all.”  Most divorce attorneys evaluate a case by the number of issues, not the value of the assets.  I find that extensive estates are sometimes the easiest to work with because the parties generally have good records and are well organized.  They also often have a financial planner who can be enlisted in the process of dividing the estate. Certainly a large estate does not immediately mean a party has to hire the biggest divorce gun in town.  What is more important is to find an divorce attorney who will support the couple in their negotiations so the matter does not have to become extensive litigation.

Consider engaging in a cooperative approach such as collaborative divorce or mediation

Mature couples are well disposed toward cooperative divorce and I always encourage them to start the process with that in mind.  The emotional and financial benefits are many but the benefit I find most valuable to the mature couple who are in a divorce is privacy.  A divorce handled outside the court system preserves privacy and assures that the couple’s financial status is not in the public record for all to see.

About The Author

By Karin Quirk, Attorney at Law


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