Marriage is a decision that shapes the rest of your life. Your wedding may lead to children, a career change, a new perspective, and will most definitely include bliss and adversity. For some, the difference is monumental in good ways and bad.

While many couples manage the tides well and come out clean on the other side, others don’t and decide to call it quits. It’s when partners who are fifty-plus decide to separate after years, maybe decades of marriage that the financial situation gets very tricky. In the end, one partner or the other will get the short end of the stick, and gray divorcees feel the financial brunt of divorce worse than most.

Divorces among those fifty-plus have doubled since 1990. Speaking to Bloomberg News, Susan Brown, the co-director of the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, stated that gray divorce has begun to paint a “grim picture.” She also noted that research shows that depression levels are higher in individuals of gray divorce than those who lost their spouse to death and linked this drop in emotional and physical health to the financial shock experienced my many gray divorcees.

Women’s finances are hit especially hard

In many divorces, each side should expect to lose 50% of their wealth. You may come out better than that, but many states, including New Jersey, follow equitable distribution guidelines. This means that the court divides all marital property in a way they see as fair. If you meditate, you and your future-ex would have more say in how to divide the marital assets but mediation requires compromise.

Women over 50 really feel the brunt of divorce. Could this be because many older women focused on taking care of the household and didn’t have as much stake in their family’s assets? Possibly, but as the property, assets, familial situations, and personalities of each spouse are different, each divorce and its results are unique.

Studies show that on average, divorced women over 50 will see their standard of living will decrease by 45%, while a 50 or over divorced man will only see a 21% dip.

On the flip side, young women who get divorced see around a 22% drop in their standard of living a young man’s standard of living is negligible.

Recovery is not easy

The big issue is financial bounceback. Given as much as a decade to recover, It’s not happening at a very positive rate. 

Below are the poverty rates of seniors (age 63 or older) separated by their marital status.

  • Continuously married: 3.4%
  • Remarried after young divorce: 3.1%
  • Remarried after gray divorce: 3.3%
  • Women who divorced young but didn’t get remarried: 18.6%
  • Men who divorced young but didn’t get remarried: 10.7%
  • Gray divorced women who didn’t get remarried: 26.9%
  • Gray divorced men who didn’t get remarried: 11.4%

There are silver linings for some who divorce, as a separation offers a fresh perspective and new chapter in your life, but the perils can also be felt for years. Ensure you are well represented by someone who has your best interests at heart and will fight for the assets you deserve.