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Divorces Among Long-Married Couples Highlight the Need for Thoughtful Planning

In general, as people age, they tend to accumulate assets and receive gradually larger salaries. Couples, too, are often lucky enough to increase their standard of living over the years, and the more years they remain married, the more intertwined their finances become. Now, results from a recent survey of 546 people who divorced after having been married for 10 years or longer have revealed that longer marriages often mean a bigger financial impact on divorcing spouses.

The study, published in April 2014, identified the following three main issues that seem to impact spouses ending long-term marriages most significantly:

  • Retirement accounts — More than 30 percent of those who participated in the survey did not claim or did not realize they could claim a portion of their spouses’ retirement benefits, while 21 percent expressed regret that they had not made sure they would receive survivor benefits.
  • Primary residence — A couple’s house is often a point of contention when they divorce, and this is no different for spouses married for more than ten years. But older spouses are more likely to buy out the other’s half of their jointly owned home. Similarly, the longer the marriage, the less likely one spouse is to agree to let the other spouse have the house (and the more likely to fight for it).
  • Financial advisor — The length of marriage may impact whether a spouse decides to keep using a financial advisor after working with one during the divorce. Among those surveyed, those married 10 to 19 years were 25 percent more likely to continue with their financial advisors after the divorce than those married 20 years or longer.

The main takeaway from these figures is that the longer a couple’s finances are entwined, the more financially vulnerable each spouse is in a divorce. In fact, among those surveyed, those married for 20 years or longer were less likely to say their finances were better after the divorce than those married 10 to 19 years. They were also less likely to say they were better off financially in comparison with their exes.

With support and guidance from a skilled attorney, it’s possible to protect yourself financially in a divorce. To learn about your options, contact a skilled divorce attorney in Minnesota.

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