July 2 Workshop Helps Couples Make Good Divorce Decisions

Experts offer guidance and answer questions at free workshop

(SAN DIEGO) – No two divorces are alike, but this much is true: divorce is stressful even under the best of circumstances. It can be especially hard if you have children or economic difficulties.

The good news: It is possible despite challenges to preserve the emotional and financial resources of the family while respecting everyone’s needs during a divorce.

Figuring out a way to get divorced without hurting your children or destroying family relationships may seem impossible. The Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego can explains how to make it happen through its “Divorce Options” workshops.

The next Divorce Options in San Diego takes place on Saturday, July 2 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon at the Scripps Ranch Civic Association Community Center, 11885 Cypress Canyon Road (corner of Scripps Poway Parkway and Cypress Canyon, two miles east of Interstate 15).

Workshops take place the first Saturday of every month.

No matter what your personal situation, workshop leaders can help you navigate this difficult time in your life.

For additional information or to RSVP, call Divorce Options at (858) 472-4022 or email at sandiegodivorceoptions@gmail.com

Led by volunteer attorneys, financial specialists, and mental health professionals who are members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego, the workshop will cover the full range of choices couples have as they contemplate divorce, focusing on the non-adversarial, out-of-court options.

Divorce Options provides unbiased information about self-representation, mediation, collaborative divorce, and litigated divorce. The workshop deals with the legal, financial, family and personal issues of divorce in an informational and compassionate small group setting. There is NO solicitation of business.

The Divorce Options program welcomes anyone thinking about divorce or other relationship transitions including co-habitating couples with children or LGBT couples looking for a process aware and respectful of their unique needs. Divorce Options offers useful information adaptable to a wide variety of family circumstances.

“We could not be more pleased by the response to our workshops,” said Dan Martin, family law attorney and Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member. “The Divorce Options program gives us an opportunity to help people become more knowledgeable about the resources they can draw on to plan an effective transition that respects the needs and interests of all family members. Taking time to become more knowledgeable can go a long way to ease the anxiety about your divorce, and allows you to take control of your future,” said Martin.

Topics include:

  • Litigation, mediation and collaboration – the risks and the benefits of each process
  • Legal, financial, psychological and social issues of divorce
  • How to talk about divorce with your children
  • Guidance from divorce experts

By learning about divorce and the different process options available you can maximize your ability to make good decisions during the difficult and challenging time. Divorce Options is a workshop designed to help couples take the next step, no matter where they are in the process. It identifies strategies to help you stay out of court, and helps you identify the social, emotional, legal, and financial issues that are most pressing for you.

About the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego

CFLG San Diego’s members work together to learn, practice, and promote collaborative processes for problem solving and the peaceful resolution of family law issues, with an eye toward preserving the emotional, as well as the financial, assets of the family. Its goal is to transform the resolution of family law issues through respectful, collaborative processes that protect the integrity and health of family relationships and eliminate the need for families to resort to litigation.

CFLG is online at www.collaborativefamilylawsandiego.com, and LinkedIn.

The Baby Boomer Divorce and Why Collaborative Divorce Is a Good Choice for the Over 50 Crowd

Al and Tipper Gore's wedding, 1970

by Michele Sacks Lowenstein, Certified Family Law Specialist,
Lowenstein Brown A P.L.C.

Do you know that 25% of people getting divorced today are over 50?

Do you know that getting a divorce late in life presents additional financial consequences?

Do you know that people who divorce late in life are more likely than not to seek alternative to litigation?

Michele Sacks Lowenstein Divorce for those 50 and up has increased from 10% to 25% of all divorces. What’s behind today’s Baby Boomer divorce boom? Some theorize that as we grow older, lose our elderly parents and face retirement and the “empty nest” that these events are catalysts for Baby Boomers to reassess their lives. At age 65, people can be expected to live another 20 – 25 years and are less willing to sacrifice the years they have left to a marriage which no longer meets their needs.

The Baby Boomer divorce presents unique financial consequences. A late in life divorce impacts years of retirement planning. For the more economically secure the late in life divorce, while still disruptive to retirement plans, it can mean a new life with minimal negative consequences. For those less secure, the late in life divorce can result in financial uncertainty or devastation.

Regardless of the couples’ financial circumstances, the over 50 divorce requires people to take stock of their Social Security benefits, health insurance and housing costs. For some, this can mean rejoining the work force after an absence of many years. Attorneys representing older individuals must be able to provide strategic thinking and advice to what repositioning needs to be done with respect to retirement planning.

Collaborative Divorce is an ideal alternative to litigation for the Baby Boomers who have planned for their retirements. They understand that tackling the problems creatively can help them find solutions that will allow them to preserve not only their nest egg, but move on with their lives. This can best be accomplished by working with professionals who are experienced in the division of more complex estates and attuned to the unique problems presented by the late in life divorce.





Broken Trust: Advice About Estate Planning During A Divorce

by Meredith L. Brown, Esq.
Brown & Brown

Many couples prepare Wills and Trusts in connection with a happy life event, such as the birth of a child. Frequently these documents are placed in a safe deposit box, never to be updated or even thought about again.

When the unfortunate life event of divorce happens, couples often opt to defer consideration of their old estate planning. No one wants to think about their mortality on a good day, much less when divorce is on their mind. This decision is understandable, but it is probably unwise and potentially costly.

First, a note of caution: if a Petition to dissolve the marriage has already been filed, the law requires that specific steps be taken before changes are made to Wills and Trusts. Similarly, there is an automatic restraint against making changes to beneficiary designations on any insurance. Couples must be sure to comply with these rules.

Family law does not place restrictions on changes to your Advance Health Care Directive after you have filed for divorce. Most couples designate their spouse as their legal voice when it comes to treatment and end of life decisions. Even in divorce situations where couples are amicable, it may not be appropriate for a soon-to-be ex spouse to make these decisions in the midst of a divorce.

How do you decide whether to change your existing estate plan?

The first (and obvious) step is to read and understand your documents. Most couples prepare documents that leave the estate to the survivor between them. Then, ultimately, the estate goes to their children. But this is not always the case, particularly in second marriages.

If you acquired assets after your Trust was created (for example a new home), determine whether title was taken in the name of your Trust. If you hold assets outside of your Trust, you could have the cost of a probate proceeding.

Even if you haven’t done any estate planning but own real estate or other titled assets with your spouse, be sure to check the deed or other title documents. Certain forms of title such as joint tenancy carry with them an automatic right of survivorship. You should consider whether you wish to change the form of title to one without survivorship rights. But before you make any changes, be sure to comply with the notice requirements mandated by law.

Second, ask yourself:  if you were hit by the proverbial truck before your divorce is final, would you want your spouse to receive your share of the estate? If you have children, do you trust that your former spouse will preserve your share of the estate so that your children ultimately receive everything? Would you feel differently if your former spouse sold the marital residence? What if he or she remarried?

Keep in mind that even if you decide to change your estate planning by preparing new Wills and Trusts, your former spouse may still have control over assets you leave to your children, if they are still under age 18. If you do not wish for this to happen, you will need to designate someone else as the guardian of the estate of your children.

As you may guess, determining how your assets are distributed upon your death can be complicated like many other aspects of your life when you file for divorce.  But this is something you need to address for the well-being of yourself and your children. You don’t have to go it alone.  Investing in the advice of an attorney with expertise in estate planning as well as a skilled financial specialist is an investment well worth making.

If you pursue a Collaborative Divorce, a financial specialist is part of your divorce team.  This can be extremely helpful if you are also working through a complex estate plan. It’s another smart reason to consider the Collaborative Process for your divorce.

Gray divorces and the family: Divorce hurts children of all ages, even when they’re grown

by Constance Ahrons, Ph.D, CFLGSD member

Are you contemplating divorce after being married 20 years or more?  You aren’t alone. In fact, you are part of what some call the gray divorce revolution.

When Al and Tipper Gore announced their divorce, after what appeared to be a long and loving marriage, it shook our beliefs about the sanctity of marriage. If it could happen to them, it could happen to us!

Al and Tipper Gore's wedding, 1970

Al and Tipper Gore on their wedding day in 1970. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

While divorce rates in general have been leveling out since 1980, seekers of divorce after long-term marriages of 20 years or more have been increasing.  Among people aged 50 and older, the divorce rate has doubled over the past two decades.

One reason for the increased rates: we live much longer than we used to. In previous generations some of these longer-term marriages that end in divorce would have ended in death.

When my friend Dorothy, told me she was getting a divorce after 45 years of marriage, I asked her “why now?” at age 70, she had come to that decision.  Her answer: “I woke up on my 70th birthday and thought, ‘I may have another 20 years or more to live, and I don’t want to live it in this cold and empty marriage.’”

About two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by women and this holds true for mid and later life divorces. An AARP survey on mid and older life divorces found that one in four of those who divorced cited infidelity as one of their top three reasons for seeking a divorce, also the same estimate in the general population.

I commonly hear from mid and later life divorcing couples “We wanted to wait until the until the children are grown.” How old do the children have to be before they are considered grown? A common joke in the legal community goes like this: A couple in their 90s appeared before a judge requesting a divorce after 70 years of marriage.  When the judge asked the couple, “why now? They answered, “We wanted to wait until the children were dead.”

Kidding aside, parents often believe if they wait until the children are grown, their divorce will not damage them. There are no custody or child support issues, nor do the children have to transition back and forth between parents.  Although this is true, it does not mean that adult children—and grandchildren—aren’t impacted by divorce in the older generation.

Unlike divorce in earlier life stages when considerable thought and planning go in to how parents will continue to parent, in a gray divorce the adult children are almost invisible in the process.

We know when parents embroil their children in their conflicts, this distresses younger children. But it is just as important that parents in mid and later life consider the effect on grown children.

With adult children, divorcing parents are even more likely to embroil the children in their conflicts by turning to them for advice and sharing issues about the breakdown of the marriage or the intricacies of their divorce settlement. Adult children are often expected to take sides or take care of a parent that is not coping well with the divorce.

Long held family rituals may become impacted. If we always spent Christmas together as a family, will we continue to do so after a divorce?  What about that annual family vacation? If Jane is in college, will she stay with her mother or her father during school break? How will she decide without favoring one parent over the other?  When a grandchild is having a birthday celebration, will both grandparents be invited?

Adult children do experience distress when their parents’ long-term marriage comes to an end. The adult children I speak to often express that they haven’t been heard. They don’t know why their parents are divorcing. They are angry about their parents disrupting their lives.  One 30-year old woman tearfully told me about her parents’ divorce, “I always thought they had a good marriage and now I find out they didn’t. I always thought my childhood was happy, but was it, really?”

Collaborative divorce can go a long way toward addressing these concerns with gray divorces. In collaborative divorce, a couple works with a team, which is comprised of lawyers, mental health professionals, and often a financial specialist, who help them navigate their divorce in a respectful and healthy manner. It is common for each spouse to have his/her own divorce coach, and for minor children to be assigned a child specialist coach.

When adult children are involved, both coaches and/or a family specialist may meet with whole family to help them determine how their family will continue after the divorce.

Divorcing parents at this stage still have the responsibility to establish some rules for how the family will preserve its bonds with the least amount of distress for all.  Rather than leave it to the kids to decide which parent will attend what, or which holidays will be spent with which parent, the parents need to decide if they are able to share these treasured times.  If not, they need to decide a fair way to divide their family participation and let the kids know.

A gray divorce can disturb the foundation of the extended family. Every member feels the fall-out. It is important to acknowledge the impact on all generations and work with the family as a whole to minimize the negative impact across the generations.

Constance Ahrons, Ph.D



Author, The Good Divorce: Keeping Your Family Together When Your Marriage Falls Apart, and We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce









Don’t Let a Gray Divorce Put You In The Red Financially













The issues surrounding a “Grey Divorce” – divorcing in your 50s, 60s, or later years  – present many of the same issues that occur when divorcing at earlier ages.

However, the fact the divorce is happening later in life can present unique financial challenges.  There is less time to financially recover from a divorce that happens late in one’s working career or in retirement.

It’s imperative that both spouses work together to openly evaluate and understand the potential financial impact of a gray divorce. This is where considering collaborative divorce can present distinct advantages.

A collaborative divorce, one in which the parties agree to work together with experts to problem solve outside the courts, can preserve financial and emotional resources while achieving a resolution that respects everyone’s needs.

One of those experts is a financial professional, who can help you evaluate common issues in the divorce process involving money.

Some of those common issues you may be facing in a gray divorce:

  • What happens to the marital home?  Often one spouse is attached to the idea of remaining in the house.  However, this may be an unrealistic dream given the financial realities of the divorce.
  • What will future income flows look like from such sources as pension plans, Social Security, and investment income?
  • Prior to retirement, is this income level adequate for both spouses?  Will these income flows be adequate at the desired retirement age, or should one consider working longer before retirement?
  • How are assets like pensions, investments, real property, business interests, life insurance, etc. to be appraised and divided?
  • Are there specific health issues that need to be understood and addressed?  What assumptions are to be made regarding medical coverage, benefits, and costs?  Have provisions for long term care been adequately addressed?
  • Are there special needs for the children and/or grandchildren that need to be addressed?
  • What impact will the divorce have on existing estate plans, wills, trusts, Powers of Attorney, medical directives, beneficiary designations, gifting strategies, legal title to assets, and any other applicable items?
  • Has credit eligibility and creditworthiness for both souses been addressed?

Divorcing in one’s golden years can happen at a time when retirement is approaching and incomes may start to shrink.  There is less time to recover from the financial impact of a divorce at an older age. Carefully and realistically assess the financial, emotional, and legal impact of the divorce in light of the unique challenges it may pose.