Mediating a Grey Divorce

Stigma prevented previous generations from leaving unhappy and unfulfilling marriages. The Baby Boomers have rebelled against this mentality leading to the rise of “grey divorces” (divorces that occur among couples aged 50 years or older). These divorcees may have waited until their children are living independently, financial stability had increased, or the house was paid for, before starting the divorce process. At first glance, it may seem less daunting to mediate a grey couple’s divorce, but there are several key factors to consider that may be points of contention for this demographic.

Over the course of our lives and marriages we accumulate a lot of stuff. When we become older, we sometimes become more sentimental about these things and the memories that are attached to them. This may make it more difficult to split these items during a divorce. As a mediator it would be beneficial to be on the lookout for these types of sentimental stalemates and provide guidance to help clients stay focused on a fair and equable splitting of these assets.

Some grey divorcees may be on a fixed budget due to being retired or soon to be leaving the work force. When it comes to splitting retirement accounts clients may be concerned about time no longer being on their side, making it difficult to replenish these accounts. This may cause clients to become very stressed about their financial future after a divorce. However, as a mediator, you can save them both time and money. When attorneys are involved, the back-and-forth communication can amount to a hefty bill. A collaborative or litigated divorce can take up to 3 years while a mediated divorce can have your client living life after a divorce in 4 to 5 months.

Divorce can also take a mental toll due to circumstances that may be unique to this demographic. Baby boomers are dealing with having to pay exorbitant college tuition bills, increased medical issues, and possibly being part of the “sandwich generation” that is taking care of elderly parents and children that have boomeranged home due to the job market and the cost of living. Reviewing these unique needs during the mediation process can help our clients effectively identify, value, and divide assets leading to a thorough and effective memorandum of understanding.

Author: Dr. Tenille Richardson-Quamina, LCSW, CSAT

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