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Divorce after 50: Financial considerations for women

Recent divorce demographics point to a concerning trend for women over 50 years old. According to a Pew Research Study, the divorce rate for those crossing the half-century mark has doubled since 1990. Now being called “gray divorce,” a growing number of divorced women are being blindsided about the financial decisions many had left to their husbands.

Many married women are not making financial decisions

Although women have made profound strides in American culture, the majority seem to continue to engage in traditional marital decision-making. Pre-1950s wives were thought to manage the home while men handled the finances. That image may come across as stereotypical, but a recent study reported by USB Global Wealth Management points to this very division of responsibilities in the majority of today’s marriages. The report concluded the following:

  • 56 percent of husbands make the financial planning and investment decisions
  • 85 percent of wives leave long-term decision-making exclusively to their husbands
  • 80 percent of wives are satisfied with the division of financial-oriented duties
  • 80 percent of all women will end up divorced, widowed and ultimately single
  • Millennial couples have a greater propensity to have the husband manage wealth than Baby Boomers (61 to 54 percent)

Divorce rates were extremely low, by comparison, for young Baby Boomers and other generations. That simply is no longer the case. This growing trend to adopt the marital roles of previous generations creates a hurdle for contemporary women. It leaves many going through gray divorce at a significant financial disclosure disadvantage.  

Many women are surprised by the state of the marital wealth during the divorce process. As the USB report points out, 98 percent of divorcees and widows advise others to be acutely aware and involved in decisions regarding wealth management during the marriage. As the saying goes, “hindsight is 20-20.”

Protect your financial interests during a 50-something divorce

The rising number of gray divorces puts more and more women in a difficult financial position during a divorce proceeding. Having left these decisions to their husbands, divorcing wives may not have an accurate calculation about marital wealth, assets or even the state of retirement accounts. That’s why it’s imperative you work with an experienced attorney that can demand full asset disclosure.