Divorce is difficult for everyone going through it, yet it is a necessary change towards a healthy life for many women. Divorce dramatically increased by 109% over the past 25 years among those aged 50 and older.
The term "Gray Divorce" refers to spouses who divorce at 50 and above.
Many of those people were in a marriage for most of their adult lives. So why is divorce after 50 on the rise, and why are so many women, in particular, divorcing their spouse?
Why is this Happening Now?
- The Pandemic has created a reassessment for most of us, from how we spend our time and with whom we spend time. There have been dramatic changes people have been making for their careers, place of living, how they live, and their relationships
- As people live longer, they embrace new opportunities. Life has new chapters of health and opportunities, and especially women want to live life differently
- When their children start adulting by going away to college and being independent in their decisions, many parents have a shift in their sense of self-worth and purpose. Some couples no longer have much in common. What is keeping a couple together if they are not problem-solving parenting?
- Women are earning more, making them more financially independent. Women no longer have to stay in a relationship for financial reasons
- Divorce is more accepted and not considered a character flaw in those that need to make a change, especially starting over after divorce at 50
- Women, in particular, are exchanging financial security and lifestyle for happiness. Especially with the Pandemic, women are reassessing what works and what they want in this next chapter of their lives
How Divorce after 50 can be Financially Devastating
Often, women tell themselves they are too busy to deal with their financial lives, and they will get to it later. Too many times, later never comes. It isn’t until a dramatic change in circumstance forces the realization they must deal with their financial lives.
1. The cost of living expenses when you're single can be up to 50% higher than for couples. Especially now with the cost of living on the rise, living single is suddenly so much more than it was just a few years ago. It is not a matter of needing to buy new items; the cost of basic expenses of food, energy, and health care has jumped in price. It can be shocking to discover that two people, many times, can live as cheaply as one.
2. When divorce occurs later in life, women have fewer earning years to recoup any financial losses, pay off debt or recover from a stock market downturn. This lack of time to overcome adversity makes decisions while going through a divorce after 30 years of marriage that much more critical.
3. Divorce creates additional costs in processing and legal fees. Usually, the more assets a couple has, the higher the fees during dissolution if it is contentious. The cost of a divorce is $15,000 or more per person.
4. The financial fallout is more significant for women when a divorce happens because women usually live longer than men and have fewer earning years to build retirement benefits. Men typically earn more, especially when women stay home to raise children. After a divorce, household income drops by 40% for women, but only 25% for men. Many women who work outside the home take jobs that give the flexibility they need to balance their work/family life, and those jobs tend to be in industries like hospitality that tend to pay less. Because of this combination of needing more resources in retirement and oftentimes having less saved for it, women must prioritize retirement, and their actions taken at this time in life will have a profound impact on their financial future and options.
What can be done during the divorce to soften the financial blow?
8 Solutions to Help Offset the Negative Impact
- Strive for a more equitable split of the assets
- When splitting the assets, make sure you're not taking on all the taxable investments
- Consider the impact before trading retirement assets for ownership of your home
- Review and, if necessary, change the beneficiaries on your investments and life insurance, and update estate documents
- Access Social Security divorced spousal benefits
- Include health care expenses as part of the divorce settlement
- Consider adding protected income sources to your portfolio to help create reliable income
- If you still have dependents, come up with a payment structure to help minimize the negative impact on the children
Change can often be challenging, and divorce certainly brings a lot of transformation to lifestyle and finances. The high cost of going through a gray divorce for most ends up being worth the new freedom, and happiness comes with a fresh start.
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Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
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