In recent years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people over 50 who are going through a divorce. There are many competing theories to explain the causes of this phenomenon, but researchers agree that it is on the rise. It has come to be popularly known as “gray divorce.”
Divorce is hard, no matter what age you are when you go through it, but divorcing later in life presents certain challenges younger people do not necessarily face. Obviously, there are personal concerns about finding new love later in life, but there are also financial concerns. Going through a gray divorce means taking a serious financial hit at a time in your life when you are thinking about retirement. And this problem tends to affect women more seriously than men.
In any South Dakota divorce, the spouses must divide their marital property in a way that is considered equitable, or fair, under state law. Typically, the parties negotiate their way to a settlement intended to leave each party with the resources they need to live independently, but the fact is that the standard of living of each party will probably fall significantly from where it was during the marriage.
If you go through a divorce in your twenties or early thirties, you have enough working years ahead of you to make up some of this loss, and possibly come out way ahead. If you need more education to improve your earning potential, you have time to go to school and improve your career.
All of this is harder later in life. If you go through a divorce in your 50s, you will need to think carefully about how property division will affect your preparedness for retirement.
Researchers find that this problem is particularly difficult for women who go through a divorce later in life. According to some studies, women who go through a gray divorce experience a drop of 45% in their standard of living, compared to a 21% drop for men in the same position. More than 25% of women who go through a divorce later in life will end up living below the poverty line for some amount of time. For men, the figure is only 12%.
There are many possible explanations for these gender discrepancies. Women tend to earn less than men throughout their working lives, and many take lower-paying jobs in order to give them more time to care for family members.
But whatever the explanation may be in your specific case, if you are a woman going through a gray divorce, you will need to be especially careful with property division. You can learn more about your options by speaking to an attorney who has experience in gray divorce.