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Planning for your post-divorce financial future

Divorce rates among people in their 40s and older have been increasing. Those preparing to be single again at this stage in life, often after many years of marriage, have unique financial issues that they need to consider.

Women, in particular, often find themselves at a disadvantage -- especially since many wives still leave the finances to their husbands while they take the lead in caring for the kids. As one author who has written about the gender wealth gap notes, "Women are just as great at managing money, but a lot of it comes from education and from practice and having the knowledge and the confidence."

It's essential for everyone -- male and female -- to take stock of what they and their spouses have in assets and debts, both individually and together. If you've been in the dark about this, whether by your own choice or your spouse's, now's the time to get up-to-speed on what you have.

You'll also need to make a budget for yourself and your children, if they're still at home. You'll need to do this to determine what to seek in your settlement and how much spousal and child support to ask for.

One of the biggest expenses will be housing. Determine whether you want to try to keep the home or downsize to something smaller. Many people try to stay in their home, but fail to realize just how much it will cost in maintenance costs, homeowners' association dues, taxes and utilities.

If you and your spouse are in your 40s or older, one or both of you has likely been paying into an employer-sponsored retirement plan for some time. Your attorney can help you determine how much of your spouse's plan you're entitled to.

When budgeting for your retirement, remember that if you and your spouse were married for at least a decade, you may be able to receive spousal Social Security benefits based on his or her employment record, even if you didn't work outside the home.

These are just a few of the things you'll need to consider as you plan for your financial future as a newly-single person. Your New York family law attorney can provide guidance and also recommend financial and tax advisors in your area who can provide valuable advice.

Source: CBS News, "Divorce tips for financial security," Julian Harding, accessed Feb. 13, 2018

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