The rate of divorce between couples over 50—dubbed “gray divorce”—has been rising for over two decades now. There are several reasons for the rise in gray divorce, from longer life expectancy to simply growing apart. However, new research states that regardless of the reason, women who divorce over 50 often face more challenges than their male counterparts.

Women are more likely to struggle financially after gray divorce

In past blog posts, we have discussed how gray divorce can significantly impact finances and namely retirement savings. But a new study reports that gray divorce is actually leaving more women dangerously close to the poverty line.

The study states that the standard of living for women drops almost by half after divorce, reducing it by 45%. This could potentially include:

  • An overall lower disposable income or wealth
  • Lower ability to obtain necessities
  • Lower ability to afford housing and other goods

On the other hand, the standard of living of divorced men over 50 only decreases by 21%.

Shouldn’t spousal support prevent this?

Not all California divorces will require one spouse to pay spousal support. However, it is more likely that a gray divorce would involve an award of spousal support, as an award of spousal support depends on factors such as:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s standard of living
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Each spouse’s earnings
  • A spouse’s ability to pay v. the other spouse’s need

Thus, the women with lower standards of living after divorce should receive spousal support, but it is not clear how spousal support factors into the recent study. However, the evidence still determines that women struggle more financially after a gray divorce.

Planning can help women protect their finances

Divorce can change someone’s life. And therefore, it is critical to carefully prepare for a divorce before moving forward with filing. With the evidence from this new study, it might be beneficial for California women to document their spending, income and other assets before a divorce, so they can prepare for the long-term. It can also be helpful to consult with a divorce attorney on how to preserve and manage finances throughout and after the divorce process.