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Implications Of 'Grey Divorce' On Property Division

Dividing property is a challenge for any married or common law couple going through separation and divorce. But matters become even more complicated when it involves older couples either in or nearing retirement. Consider just a few of the extra factors that such couples should contemplate and how they can find help to facilitate the process.

Retirement's Impact On Financial Factors

For older couples, the working years are either past or soon to end. Opportunities to recapture losses are limited. Most are wise not to spend any more time or money than necessary to work out an agreement. Seeking financial advice during the divorce process is especially prudent for such couples.

Interestingly, financial experts frequently figure among the team of professionals that couples often work with when they choose the alternative method of collaborative divorce to resolve financial matters. In that situation these financial experts are often called "financial neutrals".  Although the law generally provides for a 50/50 split on property/debt, financial advisors can strategize ways to achieve the division while aiming to set both parties on a reasonable foundation for their twilight years.

Calculations often require a higher level of detail and long-term forecasting than for younger couples. Some complexities include:

  • How much longer each party plans to work
  • The kind of lifestyle each envisions for their retirement and its impact on spending
  • Whether there are any adult children still in need of financial help or who live in the family home and may be impacted by a decision to sell
  • How to split the forecasted value of RSPs, investments and pensions without collapsing the vehicle itself, triggering immediate tax consequences or incurring extra fees

With the multitude of extra considerations involved with property and debt division, older couples are wise to draw on the advice and collaboration of both an experienced lawyer and financial neutral.  At Peterson Stark Scott, senior family lawyers G.C. (Scottie) Scott and Trudy Macdonald are experienced Collaborative Family Lawyers with many years of assisting couples to navigate the Collaborative Family Law process.

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