Three financial considerations when ending a marriage

Bringing a marriage to a close is complicated. Even if you and your spouse don’t have billions of dollars at stake, you need to protect your interests.

Property division tends to be more complicated for older couples. The spouse who’s been less involved in the family finances (often, but not always, the wife) can be at a serious disadvantage without professional financial guidance.

Couples who’ve been together for many years typically have a widespread portfolio. Between real property, business ownership and retirement accounts, there may be more at stake than you realize. So, how can you make a case for your portion of the settlement?

Predict future expenses

Your financial future might seem secondary to happiness when leaving your spouse. However, the closer you are to retirement, the more cautious you should be about equitable asset division.

Hiring your own financial advisor can help you determine your ongoing financial needs and make sense of the assets you and your spouse currently share.

Your situation will dictate what decisions are in your best interest. For example, consider whether:

  • You can afford to keep the house. Although you might want to hold onto the memories you created in your home, the taxes, insurance and upkeep may not be feasible on your own.
  • You have an accurate business valuation. A spouse will occasionally undervalue their company to minimize the effect divorce will have on business. You may want to get an independent valuation before you agree to settlement terms.
  • You should put a hold on your joint accounts. Once you separate, make your financial institutions aware that you and your spouse are divorcing, and that shared assets ought neither be distributed nor withdrawn.

Financial planning can be extremely difficult while experiencing the emotions that accompany divorce. Adding experienced professionals to your team can help you maintain focus on what you need to move forward.