Monthly Archives: September 2015

How things end is even more important than how they began

We all remember significant moments in our lives. The moment we first met our future partner, or made a commitment to them. The moment we held our new-born child in our arms for the first time, left them at nursery or school the first time, or took them to university and waved goodbye. We remember making friends, seeing special places, films, music. We flash back to when we read our first long book, to an insight we had into something profound. A cherry tree in full blossom, a rose, our first champagne, a wedding, a funeral, Christmases or other festivals.   The list is long.

We must add to it those things which were endings. Things done for the last time. The final good bye to someone we love who died, or the sudden failure to re-appear, when they died without warning, with no leave-taking. Leaving places, especially homes, schools, places we have been happy or sad or both. Moving on, departures from people we were close to, shared time with, perhaps flats or homes. Then there is the ending of relationships as couples. The ones that we thought were forever, that fail or turn sour. The divorces, partnerships, especially those where we had children, as in a material sense those relationships never end. The children are always there to link you.

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Those un-couplings are so important and need even more careful management than the weddings that started them. There may be a powerful instinct to fight, a fear of losing out that motivates conflict over resources. The usual ritual is to appoint a lawyer each to try and get you the biggest share, in case you lose out. That adversarial process often damages what is left of the relationship, destroying direct communication and preventing the establishment of new friendly non couple boundaries with that person you are detaching from, but with whom you have spent a significant part of your life.

Often the costs of the legal ritual can cost more than the value of what you are arguing about if it is finances. When you look back, you will remember all this. How it ended. The sweet and the sour. It doesn’t have to be a bitter contest. Mediation helps couples detach kindly, to create the new understandings and boundaries they need as separated parents. If you are splitting up, you will remember always what it was like, who did and said what to whom, how it was done. Don’t make the mistake of fighting. Mediate a good end, something you can remember that you did as well as was possible, with kindness and dignity.

The Silver Splitters – Divorce for the over 50s on the rise…

The Office of National Statistics figures released in July 2015 show that the greatest rise in the percentage of people getting divorced in 2014 are couples aged 50 to 64.

This trend in older people divorcing is not new.

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By 2013 the number of over 60s divorcing had reportedly increased by over a third in the last decade. Dramatic changes in life expectancy have led many couples to reconsider whether they really want to grow old together. Today’s over 50s are fit and active and no longer feel that there is such a stigma attached to divorce. Marriages are more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991. And as you head towards retirement it can trigger a reappraisal of how you want to spend your later years.

Some suggest that the older generation have become more aware that they can split from their current partners after the children leave, and still meet new partners. They can go on to lead more fulfilling lives, rather than staying in less than satisfactory relationships.

Others suggest that, once the children leave, couples discover that they have less in common than they thought they did.

Plus, women are often more financially independent than before and may feel more confident to make the break.

In general divorce can be simpler and cheaper when child maintenance is no longer in the picture.

Conversely, “Silver Splitters” may have more to argue over, where they have benefitted from rising house prices and where they may have generated a significant amount of equity in the house over a number of years and have at least one hefty pension to consider.

Changes in the law which allow pension funds to be shared may also have had an impact on the over 50s divorce figures. With the latest developments following on from this year’s budget, the over 55s now have some freedom to cash in their pension pots; no surprise that they are taking hold of this new found freedom to make the break.

However any split or equalization has to be handled with care because comparing different types of pensions with differing contributions and different rights is like comparing apples with pears.

At Focus Mediation our mediators who work with the financial aspects of divorce are all lawyer mediators. Our lead mediator and Managing Director, Mary Banham-Hall, has an advanced qualification in pensions and trains the team to mediate this minefield to best effect.

By coming to mediation, we can help you to work through where you are and where you want to get to as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, focusing on your priorities and what you need to move on and live separately.