"Grey divorce" more common; can swat finances
Linda Nguyen, Winnipeg Free Press
TORONTO -- During a nearly two-decades-long career, financial planner Debbie Hartzman has doled out her share of savvy money advice to clients going through divorce.
What may be surprising is that in the last few years she's been seeing more and more clients in their 60s, 70s or even 80s.
According to Statistics Canada, the phenomenon of "grey divorce" -- or separation in one's senior years -- has been steadily increasing overall.
In 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 852 divorces where both partners were 65 and over, up almost three per cent from two years earlier.
There were 1,237 divorces where women were aged 65 and over, slightly down from 1,247 in 2006, but 2,486 divorces where men were in that age bracket, up from 2,415 two years earlier.
And some experts say these rates will keep going up as the baby boomer generation continues to age.
Recently one of Hartzman's clients, a woman who had been married for 35 years, found out her husband was leaving her.
"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.
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.
Hartzman says it's important for seniors going through "silver separation" to take some steps to protect themselves financially.
1. Prepare for a change
Going from a double-income to a one-income household will take some adjustment at any age. But for seniors who were looking forward to a set retirement date or living off a fixed income, it will feel a little hard to take at times.
"The largest impact on anybody in that age bracket when separating is the fact that they're not in their asset-gathering years, they're in their asset-depleting years," said Hartzman.
"Their lifestyle is hugely diminished because there's no possibility of future growth and income."