Aging Canadians confront cruel financial reality of ‘grey divorce’

Di Vito recommends clients look at their married lifestyle and re-evaluate how their newly-single lifestyle will look like.

“The home that they are in right now may no longer be affordable. The lifestyle may no longer be affordable,” she said. “So it’s important to manage budgets and expenses quite thoroughly. Understand where your money is going, where your money is coming from.”

Certified financial planner Debbie Hartzman said she often hears from older clients clueless about their financial situations.

“One partner has been quite financially savvy, and the other partner not so much,” she said. “Upon separation, the spouse that wasn’t as savvy, has no idea how to unravel the situation.”

Recently one of Hartzman’s clients, a woman who had been married for 35 years, found out her husband was filing a divorce.

“Her husband came home on a Monday and said ‘I don’t love you anymore. I’m leaving,’ ” said Hartzman, a member of the Financial Advisors Association of Canada with a private practice in Kingston, Ont., that specializes in divorce and income planning.

The couple had only $2,000 left to pay on their matrimonial home but then he dropped a bomb on her: he had secretly used their joint line of credit and bought a new home for himself.

“She panicked. I told her, ‘Don’t panic,'” said Hartzman.

Eventually, her client took the news as a wake-up call.

It’s advice that many seniors should heed if they want financial protection during a divorce, said Hartzman.

“You have to be able to advocate for it,” she said. “You have to understand where the equity is and understand the value of the assets to be on the same playing field. (You have to) be able to fight for it.”
© The Canadian Press