When a long-term marriage dissolves, the parties involved often have two major concerns; finances and retirement. Many don’t know if they will the be able to live comfortably after they stop working if they have to give half of their savings to their ex-spouse.
Fear stems from the idea that every asset, including pensions and the matrimonial home (often times when parties are reaching retirement, there is minimal or no mortgage on the home, meaning the real property itself is an investment for their retirement – no rent or mortgage payments, just general upkeep and maintenance), must be split evenly. Furthermore, there may be concerns about spousal support if one party left the workforce during the marriage either permanently or temporarily to raise children.
It’s true that grey divorce can be uniquely challenging because it forces both parties to rethink their retirement plans, but a family lawyer can offer a lot of guidance to people in this position. For starters, they can help their client understand what options are available to them. Until they know their rights, one party may just assume that their ex-spouse is entitled to half of their pension. However, a family lawyer would help their client find alternative options if they exist, based on that person’s financial reality. For example, the wife may get to keep the house while the husband retains the full pension.
The process of dividing assets is always complex, and there truly is no downside to having a lawyer assist with this process. In family law, the division of property is referred to as an equalization of the parties’ net family properties. At its simplest, what that means is that for each party, all of the assets (savings accounts, investments, property, etc.) and all of the debts (mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards, etc.) that were accrued during the marriage, are going to be off-set. So as an example, if one spouse has $1.00, and the other has 50 cents, the spouse with more money will have to pay 25 cents to the spouse with less, and each party walks away with 75 cents. How that 25 cent payment is calculated is where your lawyer can assist with different options.
Additionally, a family lawyer will ensure that their client’s rights are being protected throughout the divorce process. Following the breakdown of a marriage, there is an obligation on both parties to be self-sufficient to the best of their ability, which means both parties may have to find employment or stay employed for longer if they are physically able to.
Finally, a family lawyer will help their client prepare for what could happen during and after the divorce. The reality is sacrifices often have to be made after a long-term marriage ends, no matter how cooperative the couple is. A good lawyer will be honest, and tell their client that they should expect to work for a few years longer than initially planed, or that travelling every winter won’t be a strong possibility.
At Shulman & Partners LLP, our experienced team of family lawyers provides practical advice and effective representation in relation to divorce in Ontario. Contact us to schedule free consultation and let us show you how we can assist you.