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Navigating Divorce in Canada: A Wealth Management Guide for Women

Updated: Feb 1

Divorce can be a challenging process, both emotionally and financially. In Canada, the rate of 'grey divorce'—divorce among couples aged 55 and older—has been on the rise in recent years. This trend presents unique financial challenges, particularly for women, as they face the prospect of splitting assets and managing their wealth independently. This article provides an overview of how divorce in Canada looks from a wealth management perspective, particularly for women and those in older age groups.

Divorce Laws in Canada

In Canada, divorce is governed by the Federal Divorce Act, which sets out the rules for divorce and the division of property. Under Canadian law, property acquired during the marriage is usually divided equally upon divorce, but the exact division can depend on various factors, including the length of the marriage and each spouse's contribution to the acquisition, preservation, or maintenance of the property.

The Impact on Wealth

When a couple divorces, their combined assets must be divided. This includes not only physical assets like houses and cars but also financial assets such as savings, investments, and pension funds. This division can significantly impact the wealth of both parties but is often particularly challenging for women in later life.


Women in particular face many unique financial challenges in a divorce. For example, if they have taken time out of the workforce to care for children or family members, they may have lower pension contributions and fewer personal savings. As of 2020 Canadian women retire with 18% less retirement income than men . Additionally, women tend to live longer than men, meaning their retirement savings need to stretch further.


Wealth Management Strategies


Given the financial challenges that can arise from a divorce, it's crucial for women to take proactive steps to protect and manage their wealth during and after the process. Here are some strategies to consider:


1. Understand Your Financial Situation:

Before you can make any financial decisions, you need to have a thorough understanding of your financial situation. This includes knowing your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. It's important to gather all financial documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, investment accounts, and retirement accounts. Additionally, consider any debts you might have, including mortgages, credit cards, and loans. A clear picture of your financial status is the first step in formulating an effective wealth management strategy.


2. Seek Professional Advice:

The complexity of divorce proceedings and the accompanying financial implications often necessitate the help of professionals. A lawyer who specializes in divorce is essential to ensure you understand your legal rights and responsibilities.


A financial advisor can provide valuable advice on managing your wealth during and after a divorce. They can help you understand the potential tax implications of your divorce settlement, offer guidance on how to divide retirement accounts and help you develop a comprehensive financial plan for your future.


3. Protect Your Retirement Savings:

If you have a pension or retirement savings, these will likely be divided in the divorce. It's vital to understand how this division will affect your retirement plans.


You may need to adjust your retirement savings contributions or consider other investment strategies to make up for any losses. Understanding that women tend to live longer than men, and therefore, retirement savings may need to last for a longer period.


4. Update Your Estate Plan:

After a divorce, it's essential to update your estate plan. This includes revising your will, power of attorney, and any beneficiary designations on insurance policies or retirement accounts. If you have children, you might also need to make arrangements for their care and inheritance. Estate planning after divorce can be complex, so consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in this area.


Conclusion

While divorce can be daunting and intricate, with the right information and advice, one can successfully navigate this transition and protect their financial future.


Remember, this guide is general advice and not a substitute for professional legal or financial consultation. If you're going through a divorce, it's crucial to seek advice from qualified professionals who understand your unique circumstances.


At DO Wealth Management, we are committed to supporting you through this process and would gently encourage to you reach out to us for a conversation to discuss the next chapter of your life.



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