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How the rising trend of 'grey divorce' is negatively impacting more women than men

Grey divorces can make women financially insecure in the golden phase of their lives because of certain societal factors.

How the rising trend of 'grey divorce' is negatively impacting more women than men
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | MART PRODUCTION; The Journals of Gerontology | Laura Tach and Alicia Eads

Grey divorces have become a popular phenomenon in recent times. As stated by the American Bar Association, grey divorce is the term used to refer to "the rising rate of getting divorced in older adults, typically from long-lasting marriages." The term came into being after research showcased that late-in-life divorce rates were increasing rapidly. These calls take a massive toll on individuals, as suddenly, in their 50s, they have to make a significant change to their lives. As per a report by The Independent, the financial impact of this change is more on women than men. Moreover, various societal factors are in play to cause this disbalance between both genders. 

Representative Image Source: Pexels |  Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

A 2022 study from The Journals of Gerontology by I-Fen Lin and Susan L Brown titled "The Graying of Divorce: A Half Century of Change" has noted that 36% of U.S. adults getting divorced are aged 50 or older. The rate keeps steadily increasing, leaving many older citizens with questions about navigating their "golden patch." There are plenty of reasons that have been pointed out for this phenomenon, from couples becoming empty nesters to simply realizing that they do not work together anymore. It is not easy to live a separate life after 3 to 4 decades of marriage. It has been observed that the life trajectories men and women undertake after their divorce are wildly different from each other.

I-Fen Lin and Susan L. Brown, in their research titled "The Economic Consequences of Gray Divorce for Women and Men," gathered data to understand the difference in the economic well-being of both parties from the boomer generation after divorce. The analysis revealed a 45% decline in women's standard of living (measured by an income-to-needs ratio), whereas men's dropped by just 21%. Also, they have found that the boomer generation's married women have less individual savings, which further dampened their prospects. As time passed, the situation remained the same for women, with an overturn happening only when they coupled up with another partner. In this area also, it was observed that men are more likely to enter into new partnerships in comparison to women after going through a late-age divorce.

The reasoning behind this difference is due to societal provisions in play. Women in their 50s do not have a satisfactory scope for increasing their earnings and in many cases, have their investments tied up with their partners. During divorces, their recouping process becomes arduous and often concludes with unsatisfactory resolutions. Moreover, throughout the marriage, women are traditionally more likely to take breaks in their careers for child-rearing, which also delivers a big blow to their finances.

Women wanting to live their golden years the way they want to is an inspirational pursuit and should be encouraged. But, before taking the call, they must have the financial knowledge necessary to transition. In her interview with CNBC, Natalie Colley, a CFP based in New York and senior lead advisor at Francis Financial, emphasized the importance of women having this awareness. She points out how she has encountered many women who struggled to handle finances after divorce. She also suggests careful planning when it comes to "social security." The woman should actively participate in the plan the couple zeroed in on and consider the benefits she will receive during widowhood or after divorce. "Prenuptial" and "Postnuptial" agreements also go a long way in ensuring that women get compensation for the time they take off work for the sake of their households.

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