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‘Gray Divorce’ Rates Explode Due To Perfect Storm

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At a time when divorce is becoming less common for Millennials, “gray divorce” is on the rise for Baby Boomers. According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s for American adults aged 50 and over. But why? The rate of increase stems from a multitude of societal factors and has significant financial implications, especially for women.

In today’s world, women are more empowered and educated, and the reduced stigma of divorce gives women more freedom to move away from a less than ideal or emotionally draining situation. As general attitudes toward divorce become more relaxed, it’s easier to walk away, especially when your peers are doing the same.

Longer life expectancies also increase the stakes for women who are unhappy in their marriage. Better medical treatments, greater health care awareness, and a better understanding of what will help us live longer have also extended the years spent together in marriage. For a 55-year-old woman, her marriage can last another 30 years or more. This raises the bar for those living in unhappy marriages and can make them wonder if they can put up with their spouse any longer.

Some adults admit that they stay in their marriage to set an example for their children and to keep a united family unit while raising them, causing unhappy couples to postpone divorce until the children are grown up and maybe even start a family of their own. When couples who stay together “for the children” are released from the daily responsibilities of raising children, new light is shed on the relationship, and an end-of-life reassessment of their marriage may come to the fore.

Miller Zeiderman LLP marriage attorney Lisa Zeiderman says she often meets clients who stayed in their marriages because they believed their children were better off with intact families. Interestingly, Zeiderman often hears clients express that children are relieved when parents finally announce the divorce, sometimes asking, “What took so long?” Or saying, “I’m so glad I don’t have to hear the two of you arguing anymore.” “

Some baby boomers are in their 2nd, 3rd or even 4th marriage. Studies show that these marriages tend to have lower success rates. The divorce rate for people over 50 who have been married more than once is 2.5 times higher than for those who have been in a relationship with the same person throughout their lives. According to Zeiderman, this high divorce rate is an important reason why couples should enter into prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, especially if they have been married before. A prenuptial or postnup agreement can provide for the division of assets, liabilities and alimony in the event of separation or divorce.

We can also blame some of the recent rising divorce rates on the COVID pandemic. Avani Ramnani, a Certified Divorce® Financial Analyst at Francis Financial, shares: “Unexpected home isolation puts more emphasis on marriage issues that would otherwise have gone overlooked. The loss of income, jobs, and separate routines that allowed them to get away from each other produced a perfect storm. With these added pressures, some marriages fade under the added stress. Ramani says she’s meeting more women who say they plan to step out of long-term marriages. “These women had it with their husbands and are ready to walk away from all the tensions and fights.”

As we know, women already face many financial hurdles, including earning less than men, starting retirement with smaller savings, and living longer. When coupled with divorce, the economic outcome can be disastrous. Research suggests that women generally do not fully recover from the financial consequences of divorce. After divorce, a woman’s average income drops by more than a fifth and remains low for many years.

According to Ramnani, gray divorcees are even more financially vulnerable. A study by the Social Security Administration found that about 20% of divorced women aged 65 or older live in poverty and are less financially secure than married or widowed adults.

A common problem, according to Zeiderman, is that “often one of the spouses not only stayed for years in a less than satisfactory marriage, but also sacrificed their earning power.” Zeiderman says: “It is not uncommon for women to come to me after remaining in marriage until their children are grown up, and then find themselves unable to support themselves in the way of life they are living in. are used to it. Women may find it difficult, if not impossible, to regain a foothold in a career after being out of the workforce for all these years.

Zeiderman warns: “Although their executive spouse has promised to take care of the stay-at-home mom forever, all bets are often canceled when a couple files for divorce. To make matters worse, the court system is not friendly when it comes to child support and maintenance. Women may find themselves forced to rush for low-paying positions and build careers as they move towards age 60 or older. Zeiderman recommends that before giving up a career and your earning power, couples with a stay-at-home spouse enter into prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements so that no one is surprised later.

What Can Women Do To Achieve Financial Stability After A Gray Divorce? Education is the key. Knowing your expenses, assets and income will help women make informed decisions that will help increase their wealth and put them on the path to financial security. According to financial divorce expert Ramnani, “The best way to get the information you need is to work with a fee-only fiduciary financial advisor. Financial advisors can help you plan for your retirement after divorce and develop income strategies to help maintain your financial security.

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