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Divorce Over 50 | CrunchyTales

Divorce: 7 Things Women Over 50 Shouldn’t Overlook 

4 min read

Going through a divorce can be highly emotional and stressful at the best of times. But after the age of 50, it can also lead to financial insecurity because mature divorcees have less time to recover financially and rebuild retirement savings.

That’s why it’s important to make sure not to get carried away with point-scoring negotiations and impractical proposals that are unsustainable or not financially viable, especially for midlife women, those who are sometimes less likely to be working or have a steady income. 

For instance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20% of women fall into poverty after a divorce.  What’s more, because women’s life expectancy is 80.5 years in the first half of 2020 (versus 75.1 years for men), a divorced woman can find herself living for a lot longer with a lot less.

Recent statistics also show that in the UK seven in ten divorces don’t share pensions as a matrimonial asset, despite them often being worth more than property. With a man’s pension being worth £130,000 on average, it means that thousands of women miss out on more than £1 billion every year, and could face poverty in their autumn years.

So, how they can protect their assets and avoid mistakes?

Solicitor Hannah Gumbrill-Ward has some tips on what to do – not just financially- when women are in the unfortunate position of realising that their marriage might be over.

Talk things through

The breakdown of a marriage is one of the most stressful experiences someone can ever go through. Opening up to someone – be it friends, family or a therapist – to help you process and work through your emotions is an important aspect to process your grief and help you navigate your next chapter.

Talking things through with a relationship counsellor may help couples decide if they can work through the issues they are experiencing or if their marriage has sadly come to an end.

Don’t underestimate expenses

Even if you have decided your marriage is over, there will be a number of things that will automatically pass to your spouse should you die whilst you remain legally married. Most of these products (such as pension and insurance products) will allow you to nominate an alternative beneficiary (i.e. children or a sibling) by simply filling out a form.

The best way to prepare for your financial needs post-divorce is to make an inventory of all your assets and debts. As a rule of thumb, marital assets should be equitably divided between you and your spouse in the divorce. You should get a full credit report for both you and your spouse, so you’re sure who owes what. 

Check the title deeds to your property

Are you joint owners, or tenants in common or is the property in one of your sole names? If you are married and your spouse is named as the sole owner, you should take advice on how to protect your right of occupation. However, don’t overlook the chance of selling the house and splitting the proceeds or taking other assets in the settlement: that may provide a better financial and personal benefit in the long term.

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Think about separating your income and outgoings

Many people will use joint bank accounts for their day-to-day spending so it is important that you establish your own account once you have separated. Try to agree early on what you are going to do about the household expenses and any joint outgoings, even though this is likely to be just a temporary arrangement while you negotiate your wider finances. Do not be tempted to transfer money out of the joint account without discussing it with your spouse first, and your spouse should commit to doing likewise.

If you have any credit cards in joint names you should consider whether these should be cancelled to save later arguments about how and when debts have been incurred.

Amend your will

If you were to die without a will your spouse would inherit everything which may not be what you want. Ensure that you see a lawyer to either take advice on your will or, if you do not already have one, get one drafted. Once you divorce, you will need to enter into a further will, as divorce invalidates any existing arrangements in place once it becomes finalised.

Protect your children

When undertaking a divorce, it is important to consider not only the immediate impact of child arrangements but how arrangements may shape your children’s future. Whilst you are the expert on your children, the benefit of taking advice (not only from lawyers but therapists, mediators or coaches) is that you can draw on their expertise about how the separation will impact your children, both immediately and in the long term. This will allow you the space to be guided by your head instead of your heart, and ultimately gain the best result for your children.

Take advice

The key to achieving a fair and sustainable settlement, whether in relation to finances or child arrangements, is rooted in a clear understanding of your legal rights. Without the benefit of legal advice, it is easy to get distracted by myths and end up spending a great deal of time, money and energy focusing on issues which are not legally significant. This does not mean that you have to, or should, immediately issue divorce proceedings.

Seeing a lawyer is an important thing to do because it may help put things into perspective for you and help you decide on what to do next.

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