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Gray divorce is taking a toll on the finances of women

Divorce rates for people over the age of 50 have doubled since the 1990s. This could be the result of changing perceptions about the supposed permanence of marriage among the baby boomer generation. It could simply be another sign of the times. Regardless of the reason why spouses choose to go their separate ways -- and every couple has its own reasons for divorcing -- evidence suggests that over-50 divorces are taking a toll on the finances of the women involved in particular.

In many relationships, women allow their husbands to make financial decisions for the family. They might, for example, take a back seat when it comes to meeting with financial advisers and accountants, preferring to contribute to the family in other ways. According to a study from UBS Global Wealth Management, for example, 56 percent of women allow their husbands to make financial planning and investment decisions for the family.

The study found, however, that 59 percent of the women who allowed their husbands to control the family's financial concerns regret this after going through a divorce or being widowed. When researchers asked currently-married women about their knowledge of family finances, 85 percent of those who said they didn't participate in decision-making said that their spouses know more than they do about financial matters.

It's all well and good to allow your spouse to manage your financial situation, but it could cause major difficulties in the event of a divorce. Since over-50 divorcees tend to have more assets to contend with during asset division, a lack of knowledge about family finances -- and finances in general -- result in one spouse having an advantage during divorce proceedings.

If you don't feel confident about your knowledge of your finances going into your divorce, make sure you bring yourself up to speed as quickly as possible, and consider hiring a divorce financial planner or consulting with a financial expert if necessary.

Source: Bloomberg, "Rise of 'Gray' Divorce Forces Financial Reckoning After 50," accessed May 21, 2018

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