28 Mar Your Housing Options after Divorce Just improved

Major banks in Canada recently announced a reduction to their fixed rate mortgages. It seems bank executives are more confident about the housing market and the likelihood of a major correction in housing prices.

This should provide good news for people who are separating and making decisions of how they split their assets, in particular, the matrimonial home. For many, keeping the house is important for couples with children and keeping a stable environment for them. For older couples, whether they choose to buy a partner out and remain in the matrimonial home or sell and each purchase a new home, lower interest rates allow for more flexibility when it comes to possible settlement options.

Managing two households costs more than maintaining one household. With late in life divorce, retirement plans are greatly affected by housing costs.

Many people finance equalization payments owing to spouses through refinancing existing mortgages, so lower mortgage rates in those situation helps.

If selling the matrimonial home is part of a settlement plan, lower mortgage rates make home buying more attractive. If keeping the matrimonial home is an option, managing cash flow is easier with lower monthly mortgage payments.

The home you want to keep or the home you want to buy after divorce may
now be a real possibility.

11 Jan Retiring and Divorcing at the same time?

Thought your retirement would be like this?

Thought your retirement would be like this?

But instead it turned out more like this?

But instead it turned out more like this?

The baby-boom generation is showing that it ‘s never too late to consider divorce.  As our life span extends,  people in their fifties and sixties with better health expectations figure they have a number of good years left. Why not live them to the fullest?  That may mean ending their long term marriage and going it alone.

The problem with getting divorced late in life, is that most people find it hard enough to save for retirement and don’t imagine living off of just half of their savings, whatever they may be.

If a couple had money in the marriage, there may be enough  money to go around after divorce.  The challenge is for normal middle-class couples who just scraped by.  Or those couples who lived beyond their means.  When they try to make their house and retirement assets cover two households instead of one, there’s simply not enough to go around.  And they’re not likely to go back to work.  They may be expecting to do the things they never allowed themselves to do while they were married like join a club, travel etc.

When people are relying on a pension or savings, there’s never going to be enough to duplicate the marital lifestyle.  If you’re divorcing at  55 or 60, it may be too late to go back to work or  too late to recover financially.

If you didn’t consider that divorce would be par t of your  retirement plan,  you may want to  work with a divorce team that consists of  both legal and financial professionals. They are there to help you navigate this difficult time, both in a legal and financial capacity.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net <http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

11 Dec Dividing Property in Divorce

ID-10071842Deciding how to split assets is more than just dividing the values on paper.  People often make the mistake of believing that dividing everything in half is the simplest and fairest way of handling things.  This is not necessarily true.  People need to pay attention to the decisions they make about dividing property and consider the long term consequences.

Assets differ in a number of ways.  Some are liquid like cash.  Some assets like RRSP accounts are tax deferred.  Some assets need to be valued in a specific manner according to family law rules and regulations.  Investments may have a different value after taking into account possible capital gains taxes.

Sometimes assets have an emotional connection that may have more worth than the actual dollar value such as a house, business, or family heirloom.

Assets may have costs to consider.  A couple may have a $400,000 investment  account and a house worth $400,000 (mortgage free).  The assumption is that if one spouse takes the house and the other takes the cash, this results in an equal division.  Keeping the house has costs such as property taxes and upkeep and maintenance. The investment account will be growing over time earning interest. It may not seem quite the equal split over a period of time.

Debts are also part of the division of marital property.  Allocating debts in divorce may mean paying them off, refinancing, or applying for new debt.  Different types of debt carry different fees, charge, penalties and terms.   Just because you have $10,000 left on your car loan and $10,000 credit card debt doesn’t mean that the car loan should go to one spouse while the credit card debt goes to the other.

Divorce settlements are often agreed upon with limited insight into the long-term consequences.  As a result, settlements that seem to be fair and workable initially do not necessarily stand the test of time.  Therefore, it is highly recommended that a divorce financial planner be brought into the process so that you can see how decisions you make today will affect the rest of your life.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

15 Oct Divorce Settlement Options

When it comes to the financial aspects of divorce, it not just lack of understanding of the family’s finances, it’s the lack of information about a family’s financial picture that tends to make good financial decisions challenging  for couples when they decide to divorce.

One spouse may  know more because they managed the family investments or were in charge of paying the bills.  After all, the couple may have thought it would be a waste of time for both to balance the check book twice every month so one takes the responsibility and tends to keep doing it throughout the marriage.

Important decisions to be made when negotiating your settlement need high quality information from which to judge the options. The spouse with less knowledge may spend more time collecting documents,  working on past and go forward budgets. This is the most important part of divorce financial planning.   Decisions regarding finances are based on choosing one option relative to another. If you are confronted with a decision you must make based on limited information you risk  reaching a poor conclusion that may  affect you for a long time.   That’s why divorce financial planning before, during and after is critical to  your future when dealing with separation and divorce.

 

Image courtesy of Keerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

05 Jun Measuring Your Lifestyle

A business metric is any type of measurement used to gauge some quantifiable component of a company’s performance. Business metrics are part of the broad area of business intelligence, which comprises a wide variety of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing, and providing access to data to help enterprise users make better business decisions. Creating a “metrics” to measure family lifestyle can be a valuable tool when you are separating. It useful information to have and it is usually part of the financial disclosure information required.

A family’s “lifestyle metrics” includes

  • The day to day living expenses incurred during the marriage
  • Spending habits of the individual family members
  • Recurring  expenses by category of expense
  • Unusual , non recurring seasonal expenses

Benefits to you :

  • Information is accurate rather than “best guesses”
  • Provides a reality check for couples of where their money is really going
  • Uncovers any gaps /discrepancies between reported income and non reported income
  • Provides more accurate picture of what is required by each spouse post separation
  •  Starting point for  each spouse to develop their own individual future budgets

Speak to me about the possibility of creating a metrics of your family’s lifestyle.

 

01 Jun Financial Homework in Grey Divorce

When you’re considering divorce in your 50’s,    a big concern is the financial impact for you and your spouse at this stage of your lives.  If you delayed having children, they may be young and child support payments may derail retirement plans/savings. You may still be faced with funding post secondary education. You may be supporting aging parents. One spouse may already be retired.

Part of divorce is dissolving your family’s joint financial relationship. This can’t be done unless you know the total financial picture. All the facts need to be on the table so you can determine how best to separate your finances allowing both of you to make the best choices of how you will move forward on your own.

This means doing some homework in advance.  As a start, you need to find and prepare the following documents:

  • Tax returns from most recent tax years
  • Recent paystubs that show payroll deductions
  • List of personal property  such as cars, boats, valuable art, jewellery, antiques
  • Recent statement from Assets:
    • Bank accounts
    • Investment accounts including open, RRSP, RRIF accounts
    • Education savings Accounts
    • Other assets such as Stock options, other Company awards
    • Company Pension
  • Recent statements of Debts: Mortgage, Line of Credit both personal and joint, Car loans
  • Miscellaneous Info: Life insurance, Medical benefit plans
  • Business Ownership details

Doing your homework takes time.  Documents may be hard to locate. You may have to request copies from the bank or your employer. You may not have looked at some of these documents for a very long time.

You can hire a divorce financial professional to “tutor” you with your homework. They can help explain and organize it all so everyone is ready to start.

10 Apr Grey Divorce

In 2009, people ages 50 and older were twice as likely to divorce as their counterparts in 1990. Researchers have just begun to explore why. They know that, for many boomer couples, the kids are out of the house and it’s time to face reality. Who gets to keep what is  even more stressful at this age when  you have to consider the financial impact  this will have on the rest  of your life.

If you or someone you know is facing divorce in their 50’s, this is a  reminder that we are hosting “Late in Life” Divorce Talks on Thurs Apr 12th. Join us to hear about the what the financial  effects might be depending on whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee.

To register click here  http://www.eventbrite.com/event/2544127554

05 Apr We don’t want to go to court!!

For  couples contemplating separation or divorce at later stage of life, the costs of   prolonged negotiations that may erode assets that they’ ve set aside for their retirement  is not what they want to see happen. There are viable alternatives to costly litigation  that  allows the couple, rather than the court, to decide what is best for them.

If you or someone you know is facing divorce, join us on Apr 12  at “Late in Life” Divorce Talks.
Learn how our mediation process works and how it differs from litigation.  To register CLICK HERE

02 Sep Can’t Sell The House?

Traditionally, autumn is a boom season for divorce, particularly for couples, who wait out the summer before returning home to cut their marital ties. Last fall was different.

“In September and October of 2008, which would ordinarily be important months for divorce lawyers, the stock market went bananas, and we experienced an extraordinary hit,” says Robert Dobrish, a senior partner at Dobrish Zeiff Gross LLP in Manhattan.

In November, respondents to a survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported, by a two-to-one margin, that they typically see a decline in the number of divorces during national economic downturns. Real estate is a huge factor.

Real estate normally represents a third or more of a couples assets. Home values had taken a hit over the past 18 months. What we’ve seen is homes taking much longer to sell or not sell at all.There has to be enough money for the other person to go out and buy another home.

“It’s been more than a year that people have been holding back, and that’s a long time to hold back in a bad relationship.” Says Dobrish