Contrary to popular belief, it’s not at all that easy to pin down the exact divorce rate in the United States. Although many people would have you believe that as much as 50 percent of marriages end in separation, the actual percentage is much lower. In fact, the results of a study published in the New York Times in 2014 show that the number of divorces peaked in 70s and 80s, and has been in decline ever since.
However, this isn’t exactly true for all age groups. Although the overall divorce rate has been in decline, it’s actually on the rise among the Boomer generation, or couples over 50-years-old. These divorces are so common that the phenomenon has been referred to as “gray divorce.”
But how is this divorce trend different from other types of separations?
Gray Divorces are More Expensive
Younger couples have more time and leeway to recover from the financial damage of a divorce. After 50, it’s much harder to recover from the financial impact of a legal separation. As a result, couples who divorce later in life are at a financial disadvantage and at a higher risk of falling into poverty.
Women are Especially Vulnerable to Financial Difficulty After a Gray Divorce
Statistically, women over 50 are more likely to have taken time off from work, or work as stay-at-home-moms, compared to men who are more likely to be employed. This places men in a better position to weather the instability during and after the divorce proceedings.
One study reports that more than 27 percent of gray divorced women face poverty, compared to 11 percent of men in the same age bracket.
How Women Can Protect Themselves in These Cases
If you’re an older adult facing this problem, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself during and after a gray divorce.
- Maintain a separate savings account and credit line – Women are especially advised to set aside money their partners can’t access, a savings account for example;
- Diversify your insurance policies – Many people understand the need for health insurance, but in your 50s, it would be wise to diversify your policies and include life, property, disability, and long-term insurance;
- Check where you are with your retirement fund – Although women have longer retirement periods and cost more than men’s, women on average have lower retirement funds. Pay attention to your financial security and make the appropriate corrections when you see red flags;
- Know your Social Security rights – Women who have been married for 10 years or more and are currently divorced can claim Social Security Benefits. However, the amount depends on their ex-spouse’s earning records;
- Be ready to make a lifestyle change – One factor that causes women to fall into poverty after a divorce in their 50s is the inability to make a lifestyle change. If your income was severely affected after a divorce, you need to learn to live within your means, pay off any outstanding debt, and maximize your savings.
If you or a loved one is going through a gray divorce, we are available to offer a consult at the Lyttle Law Firm. Call us today at 512.215.5225 to schedule a consultation.