Originally published in Conejo Valley Lifestyle
When navigating life’s challenges like divorce, enlisting the help of a professional who can provide guidance and knowledge ensures the best outcome for you and your family.
At Zonder Family Law Group in Westlake Village, Calabasas and Ventura, their mission is to “help good people in bad marriages preserve their wealth, protect their children and guard their privacy so that life can be good again after divorce.”
Led by Certified Family Law Specialist Attorney Lisa Zonder, the firm’s seven core members and expansion team specialize in complex and high net worth cases, specifically with couples aged 50 and older who have been in longer term marriages, a.k.a. “Gray Divorces.”
Typically involving more financial complexity than divorces among younger couples, Gray Divorces are on the rise.
“Since 1990, divorce rates have doubled for those 50+ and tripled among those 65 and up,” says Lisa, who has dedicated the past 30 years of her career to making a “meaningful difference in the lives of couples and families going through the emotionally wrenching process of divorce.”
While older couples traditionally stayed married regardless of whether they felt satisfied and fulfilled, “This is changing,” notes Lisa, adding that Gray Divorces often involve a different set of considerations.
“Chances are the person paying child and/or spousal support has a much higher income than when the couple first married,” says Lisa, as well as “additional income, such as bonuses, car allowances and travel benefits, which are far less prevalent in divorces among younger generations.”
Retirement accounts are also common and significant factors in Gray Divorce cases.
“Couples going through a Gray Divorce may have substantial retirement savings in their 401ks, IRAs or pensions. The couple may also own a business and/or real estate in addition to the marital home. Retirement accounts, real property and businesses must be carefully valued and divided,” explains Lisa, pointing to the benefits of a team approach. “It is not uncommon that financial experts, real estate experts and business valuation experts need to be involved in the divorce process.”
And while a Gray Divorce may contain fewer child custody issues, as the children are usually over 18, “this doesn’t mean that Gray Divorces are any easier on the family unit,” says Lisa. “Adult children and grandchildren are affected by divorce. Long-standing family traditions may look different moving forward and can impact the family’s younger generations.
“Divorce at any age affects a person’s mental and emotional health, and while your attorney should never replace your therapist or mental health professional, working with a firm who provides empathy and compassion as you are going through this difficult time is paramount,” says Lisa. “We believe we are uniquely skilled in this way.”
Alternative Options in Gray Divorce
As in nearly every divorce case, it is ideal to keep the parties out of court, says Lisa, noting that Zonder Family Law Group offers a variety of out-of-court options for family law cases, including mediation and collaborative divorce.
Mediation, an out-of-court solution to resolving a family law case, involves confidential meetings with a neutral mediator in which parties negotiate the issues in their case. The mediator does not represent either party and cannot offer legal advice, instead providing suggestions and insights as to how cases would be handled in the courts and how they can be handled when parties work together.
Collaborative divorce is a client-centered, non-adversarial and team-based process. In addition to separate collaboratively trained attorneys, team members may include divorce coaches, financial professionals, child specialists and others. It is typically more cost effective than traditional divorce and is confidential, meaning none of the case is revealed in open court.
Other approaches include “cooperative litigation,” in which couples’ individual attorneys negotiate back and forth on behalf of their clients to settle the case, and the use of private judges to expedite the process and reduce costs.
“Our goal is to help our clients settle their family law issues and avoid conflicts whenever possible,” says Lisa. “As seasoned trial lawyers, we have seen the heavy toll that drawn-out divorce litigation can have on families, both financially and emotionally. Our firm is settlement-minded and ready for trial.”
To learn more about Zonder Family Law Group’s services, call 805.777.7740 or visit ZonderFamilyLaw.com.