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Financial surprises can accompany divorce

When Minnesota women decide to divorce, the decision to end their marriage can come with unexpected financial changes. In one study of 1,785 adult women, including those planning for divorce, going through the process or with a finalized divorce, 46 percent said that they had encountered surprises during the process with an impact on their finances. Most of the women who participated in the study were already divorced, and over one-fifth were 55 or older.

There were several major financial surprises that these women encountered while going through a divorce. In the first place, many learned that they were unaware of the extent of their debt during the marriage, including their mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards, auto loans and other debts. In addition, for some women who had been long-time homemakers, the difficulty of re-entering the workforce led to lowered salaries and career prospects. Many expected that alimony payments would last longer or that child support amounts would be greater. While many people had developed a deep attachment to their marital homes, they often had to leave those homes for smaller, more affordable places.

The survey also found, somewhat surprisingly, that younger women were more likely than older women to have placed all financial responsibilities in the hands of their husbands. Of course, when a divorce took place, these women had to learn the full scope of family finances and take charge of their own plans or the future. Sharing responsibility during marriage can help some avoid these types of surprises after divorce.

When going through a divorce, the financial aspects of the end of a marriage can be among the most significant and long-lasting. A family law attorney might be able to work with divorcing spouses to protect their interests and achieve a just settlement in terms of property division, spousal support and other key matters.

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