The Modern Divorce: How Collaborative Law Can Help Divorcing Parties Nearing Retirement

By | Published On: January 13, 2021

The Modern Divorce, a blog series, looks at all aspects and considerations of the Collaborative Divorce process. This is the third post of a multi-part series.

There’s no ideal time to go through a divorce, but it’s particularly stressful to contemplate divorce when you’re nearing retirement. Often, seeking a divorce at this stage in life is called a “gray divorce.” — while for the obvious reason that people in this stage of life sometimes have gray hair, I believe it’s also because divorce at this stage can be complicated and full of gray areas. Divorcing at this stage of life implies years of financial and property investments to divide along with emotional and family entanglements to navigate and, ideally, preserve.

Common questions professionals in Virginia and Washington, DC contemplating a divorce later in life ask are:

  • Will I get to retire at the age I planned?
  • What do I (and my spouse) need to retire to cover two households instead of one?
  • If spousal support is appropriate, how long do I need to pay support to my spouse? If they are receiving a portion of retirement, isn’t that enough?

Collaborative Divorce allows for both parties, along with their “team” – meaning each party’s attorney and a financial neutral – to look at the totality of the parties’ assets and life together and be creative in brainstorming ways to meet the family’s collective financial needs and goals and either successfully retire or preserve a comfortable retirement.

The team’s financial neutral will create projections of income and cash flow over time for each party looking at numerous scenarios. This allows each party to have all the information, including future projected tax consequences while considering options. Additionally, through the process, the parties can analyze the future value of pensions, when and how those will be paid, survivor beneficiary clauses, etc. This pension analysis can help guide a conversation on the division of other assets and an award of spousal support, if appropriate.

This process differs from the “traditional” divorce process, where each party advocates to get the most they can receive within reason under the law from the marital pot, without regard to the other spouse or their children. This can have serious and often unintended emotional consequences, and it wastes limited resources over positioning instead of focusing on problem-solving.

If you’re contemplating a divorce, you should contact an experienced family law attorney, ideally one who is trained as a Collaborative professional, to discuss your particular needs and whether the collaborative law process is appropriate for your family.

The Modern Divorce Series Preview: The next post in the series will provide insights regarding the collaborative law process and co-parenting.

Blog Series: The Modern Divorce

Emily C. Baker is a family law attorney and partner at Tucker PLLC. For more information on Collaborative Divorce, contact Emily at or to schedule a consultation.

Learn more about the Tucker Family Law Team