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 these relationship changes 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.  The process of separation is often very trying on several fronts: emotionally, financially, mentally and physically.

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.   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, allocation of debt, and spousal support 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 a new relationship; that is a Cohabitation or Prenuptial Agreement.  It is highly recommended to those entering into a new, committed relationship that they consult with a lawyer to discuss whether a  Cohabitation or Prenuptial Agreement would be an appropriate step.  When combining finances where prior family assets and debts are involved, it is important to understand and address concerns regarding future rights and obligations of the new relationship.

Taryn is the Practice Leader of Pushor Mitchell’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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