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Divorce can bring new financial responsibilities for spouses

Since the late 1990s, the divorce rate for people over 50 in Ohio and across the United States has doubled. This can be complicated, especially for older couples in which one person, most frequently the husband, made the majority of financial decisions throughout the length of the marriage. After a later-in-life divorce, some people can find themselves dealing for the first time with major financial responsibilities and handling paperwork; many former spouses can discover unpleasant realities about their financial situation of which they were previously unaware.

Overall, 56 percent of married women still rely on their husbands to make major investing and financial planning decisions, which can lead to a big shock in the case of divorce. While older women are theoretically more likely to have made this decision, the same survey revealed that 61 percent of millennial women who are married rely on their husbands to make decisions about investments. The survey included divorced or widowed women as well as couples, all of whom had at least $250,000 in assets for investment.

Of the survey respondents, 59 percent of the widowed and divorced women expressed regret for not participating in financial planning and long-term decision-making earlier during their marriage. The same results were not yet visible among the women who were currently married. Of those, 80 percent said that they were happy with the marital division of financial responsibilities.

Many financial experts warn women that this perspective can be detrimental in the long run, especially in the case of widowhood or divorce. During the divorce process, asset division can be one of the most complex matters handled, especially in the case of a high-asset divorce or a couple with extensive investments. A family law attorney may help divorcing spouses advocate for their interests throughout the process as well as work with financial professionals to help their clients prepare for financial planning after divorce.

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