It’s no secret that baby boomers and older — Americans well into their 80s — are divorcing late in life, a phenomenon known as “gray divorce.”
What’s new are lower-cost options. There’s a less costly way to divorce now — such as mediation or collaborative divorce — and workshops are springing up around Greater Philadelphia.
Collaborative divorce professionals hold seminars locally called Second Saturdays, where seniors — or those approaching retirement — can learn how to split up in a dignified way and avoid the expense of divorce attorneys and the court system.
“Women think they can’t leave the marriage financially until they come here and find out that it’s possible later in life,” said collaborative divorce specialist Jean Biesecker of Bala Cynwyd.
For many seeking divorce, she said, the issues in the marriage are long-standing, but unaddressed.
“What was overlooked? The relationship. The connection. It was work, making money, the kids, the vacations, the house at the Shore,” she said. “There’s resentment that won’t go away.”
On the second Saturday of the month, Biesecker said, “we present alternatives to court, and people feel relief and empowered. We run the gamut of people. Some women come who are already litigating and have attorneys. But they feel like they don’t know what’s going on — which is shocking to me.”
Many seniors “are terrified of having to go in front of anyone and tell their story. They hear from work colleagues, family, and friends about divorce experiences where they are bankrupted through the court system. Or sometimes they want to continue parenting together and not have just curbside pickup with the kids. They don’t want that.”
“Why is that? We are very transparent. The financial, mental health, and therapists all share information very openly. If we were to go to trial, we have more information that we wouldn’t have known.” Biesecker said. But happily, “over 90 percent of cases who come to us resolve with us.