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Financial surprises may happen in some divorces

Some people in Tennessee may be surprised to learn how little they know about household finances and investing when they get a divorce, and according to a survey by UBS Global Wealth Management, this is more likely to be women than men. The survey gathered information from 1,500 couples and more than 600 women who were widowed or divorced. All had at least $250,000 to invest.

The study found that more than 60 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of baby boomer women said they left major investment and financial decisions up to their husbands. In all, a majority of women across all age groups left these decisions in their husband's control. However, while married women tended to be content with this decision, widowed and divorced women had a different take. Almost 60 percent regretted not participating in long-term financial decisions while 94 percent said that they should have had complete financial transparency. Among women who remarry, 80 percent are active in financial decision-making.

The issues that can arise from not being aware of finances when a person is widowed or divorced range from a difficult learning curve in having to quickly master these topics to unpleasant surprises such as a spouse's hidden debts. For people over 50, this may be particularly challenging since fewer working years mean less time for financial recovery.

People need to protect themselves financially in a divorce, and in order to do so, they need to understand their marital finances. As a first step, they might want to take copies of financial documents, such as tax returns and investment paperwork, to an attorney to discuss what property division might look like in the divorce. If one spouse has not worked outside the home or has a much lower income than their partner, that spouse may be able to get alimony.

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