By Sarah Ruef-Lindquist, JD, CTFA
I recently wrote about the financial vulnerability of women in retirement relative to their male counterparts. Lower wages, longer time out of the workforce as caregivers and resulting challenges to saving adequately for retirement years contribute to this vulnerability.
A recent Kiplinger article highlights the increased divorce rate of older couples (age 50 and older) and the perilous journey that such financially vulnerable women face in marriage dissolution. The article refers to this as “gray divorce.” Citing Pew Research, the divorce rate for people in this age cohort has doubled since the 1990s.
Whether a result of the decreased stigma of divorce and waiting until the nest is empty to end an unhappy marriage, greater life expectancy coupled with unwillingness to remain in unhappy unions, or the new pressure of a pandemic overwhelming long-used coping mechanisms, the trend is real, and can leave women in financially difficult – or even perilous – circumstances.
According to the Kiplinger article: “A study conducted by the Social Security Administration found that around 20% of divorced women 65 or older live in poverty and are less financially secure than married or widowed adults.”
How can women prepare themselves for the impact of divorce in their later years? One of the recommendations in my prior article about retirement planning was to establish a relationship with a financial advisor. That is especially important if a divorce, division of marital assets and other support resources becomes a reality, because in this instance, knowledge is power.
Having a relationship with a financial advisor can help a woman have a realistic understanding of their income, assets, liabilities and ongoing expenses once they are no longer part of a marriage. The financial advisor can then help create the strategies appropriate to build the client’s economic security going forward as they take control over their own individual financial life.