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Gray Divorce Can Take a Financial Toll on Women

Over the past couple of decades, one of the most significant family law trends has been the phenomenon of gray divorce. This term is used to describe the phenomenon where middle-aged spouses, who might have been married for 20 years or more, decide to go their separate ways. In many cases, these breakups seem simple because the parties no longer have minor children at home and do not have to worry about custody and visitation arrangements. On the other hand, the end of spouses’ long-term financial relationship can be tough, particularly on women.

Records show that more than a quarter of women who divorce later in life live below the poverty line, which is about twice the figure for men in the same situation. Even if a woman is able to meet her basic needs following the end of her marriage, it is vital for her to retain an attorney who is familiar with the challenges associated with the asset division process in a gray divorce.

Specific factors that middle-aged women should keep in mind when going through the marriage dissolution process include the following:

  • Gender pay gap — Along with the salary discrimination that disfavors women of every age, there are many reasons why the late-career gender pay gap is even wider. Many women never catch up salary-wise after focusing on family responsibilities for some time. Also, a large percentage of older executives are men, so a man might be in a much better position if he and his spouse split existing assets 50-50.
  • Barriers to re-entry in the job market — Women in their 40s and 50s are frequently “caught in between” during equitable distribution determinations. As they are not of retirement age, a judge would likely expect them to return to the job market, even if they spent many years taking care of their home and family. However, lucrative job opportunities are slim for people re-entering the workforce and obtaining the training necessary for a well-paid position often requires significant time and money.
  • Retirement and Social Security benefits — Assets in pensions, 401(k) accounts and other retirement investments constitute divisible property. This includes Social Security benefits when spouses were married for at least 10 years. During the divorce process, it is imperative to secure a fair share of retirement assets that accumulated during your marriage.

At Mock Law, L.P.A., I advocate on behalf of spouses going through a gray divorce as well as other Northwest Ohio residents whose marriage is coming to an end. For a free consultation at my Toledo office, please call 567-200-3573 or contact me online. My phones are answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.