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How divorce can affect retirees

Given that approximately 1 out of every 10 people living in Georgia has experienced a divorce at some point in their lives, locals are no strangers to how deleterious the dissolution of a marriage can be, especially to their finances. In fact, people who have been divorced have a higher chance of running out of assets come retirement and have a lower net financial wealth when compared to those who have never filed for divorce.

Interestingly, the only group of people who seem immune to the financially detrimental effect of divorce is single women. In fact, single women who were previously married have been found to be in a comparable financial situation to people who have never been married in the first place. The main reason for this is real estate. To be more precise, the fact that divorce gives women the house means that they can cash in on this home equity when it's time for retirement.

What's surprising to note is that homes can make better retirement assets than retirement accounts. For one thing, people can live in a home, but the same cannot be said for an IRA. Whereas saving money in a retirement fund requires commitment and dedication that the divorcee may not have, everyone pays their mortgages; people will squeeze themselves as much as humanly possible in order to pay for upkeep, building up equity for themselves along the way. Moreover, the price of real estate tends to appreciate over time.

Even though real estate can be the deciding factor for a single woman's net financial wealth before retirement, financial planners have tended to advise divorcees to get rid of the home as soon as possible given all the costs incurred by it, and this goes to show how different theoretical concepts can be from practical experience. Therefore, anyone thinking about getting a divorce may wish to reach out to a divorce lawyer who has seen numerous cases and might advise the best possible course of action.

Source: USA Today, 'Broken hearts: A rundown of the divorce capital of every state," John Harrington and Cheyenne Buckingham, February 2, 2018.

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Hecht Family Law
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