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Courtney & Mills, LLC  Approaching Every Case with Strength, Education and Respect
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The Cost of Divorce for Women Over 50


With the rate of divorce for individuals in their 50’s and older—doubling in recent decades, some may believe that it’s a simple process that results in two happy divorcees.  While that’s very true in some cases, there are decidedly difficult outcomes for others—particularly women.  Understanding the financial challenges for older women of divorce is critical for anyone seeking a divorce later in life.

The Issues 

There are a number of issues that older women face as the prospect of divorce looms:

  • Never having worked outside the home: There is a whole generation of women who spent decades as homemakers whose husbands were the breadwinners.
  • Lower wages for women: Even for women who did spend time building careers, the wage gap between men and women, and resulting Social Security income, is significant. And while women are allowed to make a claim on their husband’s Social Security (if married for at least 11 years), they are generally entitled to just half of that income, not the full amount.
  • Remarriage is uncommon: Women will most likely not share expenses with a new partner following divorce, since only about one in five women ever find a new partner.
  • Women have fewer resources: Women suffer a 45 percent decline in their standard of living after a divorce, more than double the decline for men. That may be why twice as many women who divorced after age 50 live in poverty compared to women who divorced prior to age 50.

Protecting Yourself 

What can you do to build protections against financial struggles? There are a number of steps you can take:

  • Play an active role in household budgeting so you know where the money is going and share in decisions related to finances.
  • Make sure you always have your own money that cannot be shut down if things get ugly.
  • Create your own retirement account—a spousal IRA is a great idea for housewives with no independent income.
  • Encourage your husband to defer collecting Social Security until age 70 if you will be claiming his, because the withdrawal will be greater.
  • Think about a pre-or postnuptial agreement. It’s a way to enshrine financial protections for you if things go south down the road.

Following the Divorce

 Divorce is going to require some juggling of finances for most.  Make a concerted effort to save a portion of alimony payments, since they generally run out in time. Additionally, learn to live within limits, and set budget goals based on your net income that are affordable and realistic.

The Legal Help You Deserve 

The experienced Springfield family attorneys at Courtney & Mills have your best interests in mind.  If you are about to go through a divorce and are over the age of 50, we will fight for the best possible outcomes for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our Springfield office today.


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