Does gray divorce carry a gender bias?

May 4 2018 - Posted by , in General, Tagged in gray divorce

That older couples are divorcing at a higher rate than in the past is clear. We’ve written about this on occasion over the past few years, most recently in February. Data collected by Pew Research Center shows divorce rates doubled for couples 50 and over. If you narrow the age-range to those couples 65 and over, divorce rates have tripled.

Experts offer a range of rationales for why. One is that divorce doesn’t carry the social penalties it once did. Another reason is that many divorcees have done this before. The social easing noted above occurred decades ago but still involved the baby boom generation. A third reason suggested is that the timing is right. The kids are gone. Perhaps the love is too, and so there’s desire to get more out of the time that remains.

One stereotype associated with the baby boom generation is that it saw great movement forward in terms of gender equality. Women are certainly a major element of the workforce, even if equity in pay remains an issue. However, if a recent report by UBS Global Wealth Management is accurate, women have another financial challenge to meet – achieving equity with spouses in deciding major financial issues.

According to the report, 56 percent of women defer to their spouses when it comes to decisions on investments and financial planning. Fifty-four percent of baby boomer women responding to this poll acknowledged following this model. The number of millennial women was even higher – 61 percent.

Obviously, this has serious implications for the futures of women who might face divorce in their older years. Divorce has a way of surfacing financial surprises – especially when the couple is older. Sometimes it’s pleasant, such as discovery of unknown retirement funds. Just as often, it’s a negative surprise, such as finding hidden spending or debt.

Avoiding surprises may not be possible in every divorce. Mitigating negative effects may be possible, though. This is done by working with an attorney committed to ensuring that all assets, including retirement funds, are properly valued and divided as called for by Texas standards of equitable distribution.

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