University of Denver

Financial Surprises More Likely to Hurt Women in Gray Divorces

IAALS Intern

A recent study revealed that a high percentage of women still leave major financial and investment decisions to their spouse. This trend is becoming a problem for widowed and divorced women, 59 percent of whom wish they had taken a bigger role in financial planning when they were in a couple.

Because the divorce rate has doubled for those over 50 in the last few decades, and because women have longer life expectancies than men, the lack of financial planning awareness can hurt older women more as they separate from their spouses. The most common negative financial surprises awaiting divorcees were hidden spending, hidden debt, hidden accounts, and outdated wills. Some women also found retirement savings they didn’t know about. Ninety-four percent of the divorced or widowed women would insist on complete financial transparency with their spouse in hindsight.

The good news is roughly 80 percent of the divorced women surveyed who remarried were more aware of their finances in their current relationship.

Heather Buchanan is a third-year law student at the University of Colorado Law School and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to