Not Knowing About Finances Can Cause Stress in Gray Divorce

Since the 1990s, the divorce rate among those 50 years of age and older has doubled. The trend, known as gray divorce, can have several positive and negative effects on those left in its wake. New York women who may have spent decades in the dark about their finances may be in for some difficult realities during financial disclosure and divorce negotiations.

Data shows that 56 percent of married women in the United States continue to turn to their husbands to make major investing and financial planning decisions. For some, this is a decision they come to regret. The same study found that 59 percent of widows and divorces regret not being more active in long-term financial decisions during their marriage.

These regrets often result in changed behavior following the marriage's end. Most women who remarry report playing a much more active role in their financial decisions. One of the reasons for this is that those who divorced were surprised, often negatively, by hidden debts, spending and accounts during divorce negotiations. Sometimes surprises are positive, such as newly discovered retirement accounts, but this is not always the case.

It is a good idea for women and men alike to take an active interest in their marital finances throughout the relationship. Should a breakup take place, a mutual understanding of shared assets can help speed up divorce negotiations and support an equitable division of assets. Those who are considering a separation or divorce in New York should speak with a lawyer to understand state laws regarding financial disclosure and property division.

Source: Bloomberg, "Rise of Gray Divorce Forces Financial Reckoning After 50", Suzanne Woolley, April 13, 2018