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What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children – Part 4

What About Us? Divorcing Couples Who Don’t Have Children - Part 4 by Ada Hasloecher{4:30 minutes to read} In the 3 previous parts of this series, we’ve identified 4 categories of divorcing couples without children (Part 1), covered couples married 1-3 years (Part 2), and couples married 3-10 years (Part 3). In Part 4, I am combining categories 3 & 4, as they have a tendency to overlap.

Married for 10+ years with no children

I would say at the outset that marriages over 10 years generally have a huge emotional component to them in addition to a more complex financial investment. The 10+ year marriages are similar to those close to the 10-year mark (as spelled out in Part 3), but there are some significant differences as well. I’ve seen my share of couples ending their marriages past the 30-year mark.

The longer marriages where there are no children tend to fall into 2 classes:

  1. They are both in agreement that it’s time to move on. It’s a mutual decision; they want to remain friends and be as fair and gentle with each other as possible.
  2. One spouse definitely wants out and the other is resisting. The resistant spouse is worried about his or her financial future without the other spouse’s combined support. They also have a deep anxiety about finding someone again to love, marry, and with whom to share their life.

When I’m working with the former, the mediation is inclined to go fairly smoothly. Often they have discussed and worked out the bones of an agreement before they walk into my office. However, when I’m working with the latter couple, the mediations take longer as the “dispossessed” spouse needs time to wrap his/her head around the impending new reality. It can be daunting and worrisome for them.

When there are no children in the marriage, these couples tend to rely on each other more strongly. They often are an “exclusive club” – meaning they may not have a lot of friendships or other strong bonds outside of their marriage. Now that this long and abiding marriage is coming to an end, it can be difficult to imagine life without the other person, no matter how arduous and challenging the last few years may have been.

All those concerns about being financially secure enough, attractive enough, not-too-old enough to find a new relationship again, often surface during the mediation. And although they may not articulate these concerns per se, it’s often obvious in the way they speak to each other or lash out in anger and despair.

Married 10+ years with no children together, but with children from a former marriage, where one spouse has been a step parent:

Then there are those marriages where the couple never had children together, but there are children from a former marriage. Being a step parent is difficult enough, but now what happens when you are about to become a “former” stepparent?? Has the relationship with your step children been close enough to survive yet another divorce for them? Are the children (many of whom may be parents themselves at this point) mature enough to handle it, not take sides, and manage their respective relationships with each “parent?”

These are some of the issues that come up during the mediation that need to be discussed and dealt with, regardless of whether or not they are going to be written into their Settlement Agreement. They want to have an understanding, and the mediation process allows for the full flower of these topics to be addressed.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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