Divorce rates overall have continued to fall for a variety of reasons. The notable exception is couples over the age of 50, whose demographic continues to grow. The reasons for these so-called “grey divorce” often involve couples growing apart over time, children moving out, or realizing that the second marriage was ill-advised.
While the circumstances of each divorce are unique to the relationship, financial experts now see a significant financial setback in living standards for couples in this demographic. Moreover, the wives are the ones who are the most affected financially with their standard of living going down by an average of 45%, which is more than double of their husbands’ average of 21%.
Potential reasons why this happens
Divorces typically involve a fair and equitable settlement where the spouses divide the marital assets, but common reasons why women are disproportionately affected include:
- Job prospects: It is more common for women in this age group to leave the workforce to raise a family, or to be underemployed in flexible jobs that allow them to work while raising a family. This can leave them less qualified for better-paying jobs that would help rebuild their nest egg.
- Fewer potential spouses: Getting remarried allows couples to pool their resources; but, men die an average of five years younger than women and tend to marry younger women. This leaves heterosexual women with fewer opportunities to remarry.
- Insurance costs: A wife is no longer able to use a husband’s job-provided health insurance after the divorce, which adds a considerable expense to a woman’s budget.
- Fewer benefits: Couples often must pass certain thresholds of time for benefits to become marital assets. This may impact second marriages or short-lived first marriages.
Alternatives to litigation
Litigation in court is generally expensive and time-consuming. Couples who wish to save their divided nest egg will often use mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution with guidance from an experienced family law attorney. These legal professionals can help ensure the settlement equitable while addressing matters unique to older couples.