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Grey divorce raises complex asset division issues for many

When couples have been together for a long time and have built their lives as a unit, splitting assets can be tricky business. The rise of so-called "grey divorce" in Canada has also given rise to questions about complex asset division, as many of these splits are anything but straight-forward. Here is what Alberta individuals and couples should know about this growing trend, and what it can mean for the financial future of both parties.

Divorce in Canadians aged 65 plus was 12% in 2014, a stark increase from the 4% rate only a few decades prior. More recently, Pew Research cited the divorce rate among those 50 and older in the neighbouring United States had grown 109% between 1990 and 2015. This trend has given rise to many questions, not the least of which is whom to ask for financial support. After all, many couples share a financial advisor who has historically been helping them work towards shared goals.

Best practices generally dictate that a financial advisor should not work for both parties in a divorce. However, professional bodies have not put any specific rules in place to govern these instances. The individual advisor and the company for whom he or she works may have its own policies in these instances, so it is important to understand these when working through a divorce settlement.

In a divorce, a financial advisor is often restricted in the guidance he or she can provide. This is because most of the complex asset division questions will be answered in the legal arena. It is important that a financial advisor be aware of the information needed to inform these proceedings, and that a lawyer be involved from the beginning to untangle the specifics of Alberta family law and mediation.

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