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How can I best split the spoils of my high-asset divorce?

If you are 50 or older and going through a divorce, chances are good that you and your spouse have acquired significant assets and marital property during your union. If so, the focus of your divorce will be less likely on the custody and visitation schedule with the kids and more on the property settlement.

It's more expensive to live singly than as a couple, and the folks at the American Academy of Actuaries say that it can be as much as 50% higher. You also must halve the retirement pensions, and when you're north of 50, that means there will be precious little time to recoup any losses.

Women typically fare worse than men in later-in-life divorces. Men might see about a quarter of their income drop off, whereas women see a dip of nearly 50% in some cases. Since women statistically outlive their male counterparts, that can leave them in dire circumstances when they are at their most vulnerable age.

Below are some suggestions for making the most of your property settlement:

  • Don't fight to keep the house. Even if it's already paid off, you still can wind up house-poor with a property you struggle to maintain.
  • Make a full inventory of all marital assets. This is especially important if you let your partner handle the financial reins. You can't fight for half of what you don't know exists.
  • Be prepared to split the debts, too. While Georgia is not a community property state, you could still be liable for repaying loans taken out in both names, as well as shared credit card debt. Run credit reports for both of you to know where you stand.
  • Consider all tax consequences. The way your settlement is structured can have some major effect on your next year's tax bill. Loop in your financial adviser before agreeing to anything.

By working closely with your Athens divorce attorney, you can work to structure the best possible property settlement to meet your needs.

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