“Gray Divorce” is a phrase that has recently seen use in the lexicon of both popular media and on the legal landscape. While there is no one defined parameter, the term generally refers to those older than 50 who are seeking divorce. Even though divorce rates have been falling in most demographics, divorce rates have roughly doubled in this age group since the 1990s.
This rate increase might be attributed to numerous factors such as better health, longer life expectancy, the disappearing negative stigma around divorce and the ease of finding a new partner through online dating. Unfortunately, the decision to divorce can leave many women in financial turmoil.
Data released by UBS Global Wealth Management reported that the majority of married women (56%) leave major financial decisions to their spouses. This can include planning for retirement and investing. While this breakdown might be shocking, it looks as if the trend will continue as 61% of millennial women report that they leave these same financial decisions to their husbands.
The UBS study went on to survey more then 600 recently divorced or widowed women and 1,500 couples. Of those surveyed, 85% of the married women admitted they left the large financial decisions to their spouses because they believed the spouse knew more about financial matters. 59% of the widows and divorcees admitted regret at not taking part in these same long-term financial decisions while still married.
The lack of financial understanding and experience can lead to a certain amount of culture shock when these women are suddenly thrust into the financial spotlight. Women in the 50-plus age group can face significant challenges when it comes to retirement planning, investing and debt management. Fortunately, sound legal advice can help prevent financial disaster while planning for and proceeding through a gray divorce.