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Challenges in divorce for those over 50-years-old

Relationships and lifestyle during marriage can have an impact during divorce and require additional vigilance when the coupe undergoes property division. This has become apparent for spouses, particularly men, who end their marriages after they turn 50.

Despite career advances and progress, 56 percent of women still allow their husbands to make investment and financial decisions. This also applies to 61 percent of younger millennial spouses who leave these decisions to their husbands and 54 percent of baby boomer wives. This information came from a recent report by UBS Global Management. Survey respondents had a minimum of $250,000 in investable assets.

59 percent of widows and divorcees in this survey regret leaving these decisions to their husbands when they were married, even though 80 percent of married women were content with the sharing of financial responsibilities in their marriage.

One statistic is especially relevant for divorce. 85 percent of married women who did not actively participate in these decisions admit that their husbands know more about financial matters.

Wives who did not participate in these decisions had to overcome and may have been hampered by financial surprises that arose in divorce negotiations and proceedings. These included hidden spending, concealed debt and hidden bank and credit accounts. Outdated wills were even discovered.

Some surprises were positive. For example, some wives were unaware of 401(k) retirement saving plans that were disclosed. Spouses also benefitted from learning what they did not previously know about the couple's finances.

However, 94 percent of divorcees and widows would have insisted on complete financial transparency from their husbands in hindsight. 80 percent of the women in the survey who remarried learned from these problems and now take a more active role in financial decisions in their current relationships.

Source: Bloomberg, "Rise of 'gray' divorce forces financial reckoning after 50," By Suzanne Woolley, April 13, 2018

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