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Women must prepare for the financial challenges of ‘gray’ divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 4, 2024 | Family Law

A study from 2022 showed just how prevalent gray divorce has become. Between 1990 and 2019, the number divorces for those 50 and older doubled. For those over 65, it was even worse with the number tripling. This is a massive increase from the past. For example, in 1970, only 8% of people 50 and older got divorced. By 2019, it was 36%. This is happening while divorce rates are declining for younger people.

Women have been struggling financially because of it as their household income reduces by up to 40% in the first year after they have gotten divorced. Men tend to fare better. This is believed to be due to the past belief that the male in the marriage went out and worked to earn a living for the household and the woman was a homemaker and mother who did not earn as much if they did choose to work. Wage disparities are also an issue that is continuing today.

While some can make up the financial shortfall with a new relationship either by living with a new partner or remarrying, the statistics suggest women are less likely to do so than men. Twenty-two percent of women entered a new cohabitating relationship or remarried whereas 37% men did. Women’s standard of living reduced by more than twice as much as it did for men.

Preparation is imperative with gray divorce

When deciding to divorce, there are steps women can take to be prepared financially. Being aware of the household finances, what is owed, what they own and how much living expenses will be is a wise step. If the couple has joint bank accounts and credit cards, it is useful to separate them. Social Security benefits should be scrutinized. Thinking about the job market and garnering education and skills can be helpful.

Given the challenges divorce presents for older people, it is vital to know what to expect and try to mitigate predictable issues as much as possible. From the beginning, having an idea of what can be done to shore up finances is crucial.