Getting divorced at any age can be challenging, but this is particularly true for those over Fifty. A wonderful article by Claire Zulkey in NextAvenue.org provides her insight as a divorcee later in life. In her article, she discusses six lessons she would have given to her younger self. These are full of insight and worth sharing if you are entering the world of divorce at this point in life. The lessons in a modified format are presented here.
Point One: Do not assume you are ‘sparing your children’ by remaining married and planning to separate only when the children are out of the home. Resident children are more likely to gradually adjust to the changing family structure than those who are independent and only come home to the ‘new reality’ periodically, and painfully.
Point Two: In order to better negotiate the upcoming alimony and support negotiations, you should fully explore the job market well in advance of the negotiations. In Florida, courts can impute income to the spouse requesting alimony as the imputed income is defined by the marketplace at the level of the skill and job experience the requesting spouse brings to the table. Have that income number in mind.
Point Three: If you wish to complete your education or enhance your current level of skills, examine the cost for tuition and the time to be expended in obtaining the new or enhanced education. That number can be a factor in the alimony claim.
Point Four: Expect loneliness to enter your life after divorce. Therapy while undertaking the divorce process is a necessity for many, as adjustments both personally and socially will have to be made following the divorce. Many old friends are couples and may not be available when your ‘couple-hood’ ends. Begin to examine how to reach out to make new connections when you feel the time is right.
Point Five: Look for alternatives to traditional litigation if at all possible. Mediation and collaborative family law are some new processes recognized in law that can settle many of the issues that arise in divorce without having to incur the significant financial and emotional cost of a traditional litigated divorce.
Point Six: Expect the divorce to be expensive if heavily litigated. Remember that attorneys typically bill by fractions of an hour and calling or emailing your counsel to document every transgression of the other party (or, worse, other parent), or looking to your lawyer as a therapist is a guaranteed way to generate enormous legal fees. Use counsel’s time judiciously and keep the bills under control.
There are a number of other points to be discussed beyond these six. Contact our office to set a consultation with Mr. Mitchell to review your particular situation. We are here to help you through your family law case.