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Older women and divorce: work with strong advocate to protect your financial future, P.2

In our last post, we spoke generally about the financial challenges older folks—and especially older women—can face after divorce. These challenges, as we noted, make divorce planning that much more important to ensure an older woman’s interests are zealously advocated in the divorce negotiation process.

Property division, of course, is an important area where having a strong advocate can make a difference. As we’ve noted before, Michigan uses an approach to property division known as equitable distribution, the aim of which is to ensure that both assets and debts are divided in a fair manner. Because judges are free to consider a wide variety of factors and to assign an appropriate weight to each factor under consideration, advocacy is critical. 

Prior to the property division process, one of the purposes of planning is to conduct a thorough evaluation of a party’s financial standing and interests, and to come up with a strategy to ensure an outcome consistent with that party’s financial goals. For older women, there are a variety of unique considerations that need to be kept in mind.

One example is that couples who have been married at least 10 years prior to divorce are able to receive Social Security benefits calculated on the basis of a former spouse’s income. This is a help to the spouse who earned less money during the marriage. Timing a divorce so as to take advantage of this aspect of Social Security law could be a good decision in some cases.

Another example of something that should be considered strongly by older women planning for divorce is that retirement benefits can be an important source of income after divorce. When looking at retirement accounts, the future value is going to be greater than present value, particular for accounts which enjoy tax sheltered growth. Another issue to consider is spousal support or alimony, which can be particularly important for an older woman who was out of the workforce during the marriage and who will have a difficult time transitioning after divorce.

Each person’s situation, of course, is unique and working with an experienced advocate can help ensure that appropriate planning is undertaken to ensure effective divorce negotiations

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Older women and divorce: work with strong advocate to protect your financial future, P.2 | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC