Separation for 'Empty Nesters'

Couples often experience significant change when their kids move out, and they retire or head towards retirement. It all sounds very idyllic but adjusting to these new norms can come with uncertainties, leading to conflict amongst couples.

It goes without saying that couples that recognize this early and who seek advice and support are better equipped to manage the transition. However, changing social stigmas, a no-fault approach in divorce and an increasing aging population has led to an increase the numbers of separation of people at this stage in life. Statistics Canada estimates that 37.6% of marriages are expected to terminate by the twenty-fifth year, and 43.1% of marriages are expected to terminate by the fiftieth year.

Separation for ‘empty nesters’ has its own special series of issues. There are many steps in the legal process key to protecting your interests and managing your life going forward that a lawyer can help you with. The process of separation is often very trying on several fronts: emotionally, financially, mentally and physically. Most empty nesters are no longer required to negotiate parenting issues and monthly child support although assisting children through post-secondary education can still be an issue that needs addressing. Most negotiations for this demographic tend to be focused around division of family property, debt and spousal support.

It is very important that parties seek out legal assistance to ensure that they are aware of their rights and obligations arising out of the relationship breakdown. Some typical issues to address can include division of pensions, investments and spousal support division before and after retirement. Once you have consulted with a lawyer, it is generally recommended that you opt to resolve matters outside of Court, if appropriate, for your specific circumstances. To do so, you can explore different out of Court resolutions including Mediation and the Collaborative Law process.

It is key that any settlement either by agreement or Court Order is done with full financial disclosure of each party’s finances including income, property and debt.

Ideally, parties can resolve matters in a fair manner and move forward into the next stage of their lives with confidence and certainty.

Another consideration is for those separated or divorced empty nesters who enter into new relationships. It is highly recommended to those entering into new, committed relationships that they consult with a lawyer to discuss whether a Cohabitation or Prenuptial Agreement would be an appropriate step to address any concerns they may have to specify their rights and obligations when entering into a new relationship.

Taryn is the Practice Leader of Pushor Michell's Family Law Group.

She provides family litigation services and is a collaborative law practitioner. Her top client priorities are clear communication, compassion and accessibility, and she considers a trusting relationship with her clients, the single most important aspect of a good law practice.

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