Gray divorce causing financial trouble in Canadian homes

We are all probably aware that the age of first marriage in the industrialized world is getting pushed back farther and farther, with many newlyweds waiting until their late 20s and early 30s to tie the knot. Did you know that divorce patterns are following the same trend? The new phenomenon of “gray divorce” — that’s occurring among the older population in British Columbia — is not only turning the legal community upside down; it is also causing great financial strain for seniors.

Expenditures associated with divorce in a couple’s twilight years can easily surpass the costs of divorcing young. Why is that? Older couples have accumulated more assets during their time together, and many of those assets are quite complex. Settlements may involve spousal support, for instance, because one party stayed home to raise the children. That situation is not as common among younger couples, as both parents tend to contribute to the workforce. Finally, ironing out insurance details and identifying hidden assets can become a nightmare for the older divorcing set.

The sociological climate in Canada may also be contributing to the gray divorce rate. Fewer couples than ever before are choosing to tie the knot, with only about two out of three families choosing marriage as an option. Baby Boomers who reach retirement age are buying in to this cultural climate, and a growing number of over-65 citizens are choosing marital dissolution. These breakups often occur after the kids have flown the nest and the women determines that she has the financial backing to call it quits in the marriage, according to industry experts.

Gray divorce poses unusual challenges, particularly in the financial realm. Couples may not understand the true cost of living apart, for instance, and many find themselves in money trouble almost before they even get started. These special needs require the input of a team of legal professionals; entering into a gray divorce without the requisite education can lead to unintended consequences.

Source: The Globe and Mail, “Rising ‘grey divorce’ rates create financial havoc for seniors,” Linda Nguyen, accessed Oct. 16, 2015

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