The attorney has to spend a lot of time really listening carefully as to what they are told are the reasons for the golden-age divorce (sometimes known as “grey divorce”) – and oftentimes, they need to listen for what’s not being said. More often it’s the woman who comes to me and says “My husband wants a divorce. I don’t want a divorce. I’m shocked, but I know he can get the divorce – New Mexico a no-fault state – but I really don’t want it.”
What is Life Going to Look Like After a Golden-Age Divorce?
Then the attorney has to listen to what the client thinks their life is going to look like after the divorce. It’s much more empathy-driven, there’s a lot more frequent contact with the clients because they will call asking me, “How do I get the lawn mowed?” In New Mexico, we have a cooling system known as a swamp cooler, and you have to have that turned on and off in the seasons. Is the client going to be able to handle that, or will they need help? Golden-age divorcées often call their lawyer for guidance on how to get through the day, so the lawyer needs to understand that this client has different needs than someone divorcing in their 30s.
There are various benefits that may be available to senior citizens, either free services or reduced services, for just getting through the day. Also, driving is a big issue. Is the client or the opposing party unsafe to be driving on the roads? Attorneys have to look at that as another issue.
Golden-Age Divorce in New Mexico Requires a Lawyer to See the Big Picture
It’s a much broader picture: it’s not strictly what do you own, what do you owe, and what’s alimony going to be. If an attorney is representing the person who really wants the divorce, say because he cannot cope with his wife’s dementia, the attorney has to talk to him about what do you think your life is going to look like. If there are adult children involved, how is grey divorce going to impact your relationship with your own adult children as well as your grandchildren if you’re the one who’s decided to divorce grandma at age 75? We look at the bigger family picture as well.
Mary Ann Burmester is a family lawyer practicing in Albuquerque, New Mexico and has more than 25 years of experience in family law. To learn more about Mary and her firm, NM Divorce & Custody Law LLC, visit www.nmdivorcecustody.com.
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