When the writing is on the wall, older women in particular need to be smart and prepare for a gray divorce. After all, women are more likely than recently divorced men to suffer from a breakup. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the standard of living of women who divorce after the age of 50 decreases by an average of 45%. For men, it’s a drop of 21%.
“The person who is disadvantaged in a divorce is the person who is not the breadwinner,” says Chris Manske, president of Manske Wealth Management. “In most couples between the ages of 50 and 60, the man is still the majority breadwinner. This puts women at a disadvantage in the event of a divorce.
Divorce can happen at any age. Instead of being ashamed or paralyzed with fear, women can take steps to prepare, including:
1. Think about your needs and worry about bank accounts later
Divorce can be bitter and acrimonious, which is why so many women worry about knowing where all the money and possessions are before signing a divorce decree. They want to make sure they get their fair share and it’s split between the two. But even more important at the start of a breakup is determining your post-divorce needs so you can survive and thrive as a divorcee. “A lot of people think, ‘I need to know where all our money is, I need to know where the assets are,’ but that’s a step in the wrong direction because it’s limiting,” Manske says. “If she’s thinking about where everything is, she’s not thinking about her needs.” Instead of leading with where the assets are, Manske says to consider what you need to be comfortable and have a sustainable life. Once you know this, it’s easier to determine which support and assets are worth fighting for.