Divorce after 50 can cause financial hardship

Divorce can take a heavy financial toll on you. But new research finds that the toll is especially hard if you are over 50.

Couples going through “gray divorce” often find themselves at more risk of poverty than couples who stay together, get divorced early in life or remarry.

The statistics of gray divorce and poverty

A study by the National Center for Family and Marriage Research looked at how divorce affected poverty. Below are statistics of people 63 and over who fall below the poverty line:

  • 27% of women who divorce after 50 and don’t remarry
  • 11% of men who divorce after 50 and don’t remarry
  • 19% of women who divorce before 50 and don’t remarry
  • 11% of men who divorce before 50 and don’t remarry
  • 3% of those who stay married
  • 3% of those who remarry after gray divorce
  • 3% of those who marry after early divorce

A different study by the same group also researched standard of living. For women, their standard of living drops by 45% after a gray divorce. For men, it drops by 21%. This is significantly higher than those who divorce early in life.

Why gray divorce hits harder

Most divorced couples see their assets split in half. But many people 50 or over, especially women, find it difficult to rebuild their assets after divorce. Women who took care of the home and family have a hard time finding a new job to pay the bills. And both men and women over 50 have a shorter window to start a new plan for retirement.

Splitting financial assets

If you divorce late in life, you have likely spent many years building financial assets with your spouse. This can include assets like your house, retirement accounts, investment accounts and savings accounts. In a divorce, you and your spouse decide how to split these assets fairly. If you can’t decide, a court will decide for you. Either way, you will probably need an attorney to help you make sure that you receive a fair amount.

Making sure that you receive a fair amount in your divorce may help you avoid a difficult financial situation.

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