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Gray Divorce Can Be Costly For Women


The rate of gray divorce—divorce for individuals who are 50+—has more than doubled in the past few decades, and women are discovering that the aftermath of divorce can be financially problematic.  There are notably difficult financial outcomes for women of gray divorce compared to their male counterparts.  Understanding these challenges is critical for anyone seeking a divorce later in life.

Older Women Face Challenges After Divorce 

The concerns of older women can be quite serious as they encounter divorce:

  1. Resources for women are scarce: Women suffer an average of a 45 percent plunge in their standard of living following a gray divorce, which is more than double the rate of decline for men. That may be why twice as many women who divorced after age 50 live in poverty, compared to women who divorced prior to age 50.
  2. Many women experiencing gray divorce have never worked outside the home: An entire generation of women spent their lives as homemakers whose husbands were the sole breadwinners.
  3. Drawing on a husband’s Social Security is insufficient: Women may make a claim on their husband’s Social Security (if married for at least 11 years), but they are generally entitled to just half of that SS income, not the full amount that the husband will receive.
  4. The gender earnings’ deficit is very real: Even the women who built careers battled a huge wage gap, watching as men out-earned them for decades. One of the tragic outcomes of that earning gap is that women generally will see Social Security income earnings at significantly lower levels.
  5. Women tend to live alone following divorce: Women will probably never share expenses with a new partner following divorce, since only about one in five women ever hook up with a new partner. That means they will have to be self-sufficient following a gray divorce.

Protect Yourself 

What can you do to reduce post-divorce financial struggles? Be smart before it ever gets to that point by making wise financial decisions:

  • Choose a pre-or postnuptial agreement to guarantee financial protections for you if things the marriage does not last.
  • Make sure you have a pot of your own money that cannot be accessed by your spouse.
  • While married, be actively engaged in the family budget, understanding where the money is going and sharing in all decisions related to finances.
  • Create your own retirement account—whether a spousal IRA for housewives with no independent income, or something else offered through your employer if you work outside the home.
  • Urge your spouse to defer collecting Social Security until age 70 so that if you will be making a claim on his SS your withdrawal will be greater.

Manage Smartly After Divorce 

Some major rearranging of finances is going to have to occur for anyone after a divorce.  Learn to live within strict limits by creating a budget based on your net income. In addition, make a serious effort to save a chunk of alimony payments, since they generally run out in time. Financial goals should be realistic based on your new circumstances.

The Legal Help You Deserve 

The experienced Baltimore family attorneys at The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes have your best interests in mind.  If you are about to go through a gray divorce, we will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our Baltimore office today.



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