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The impact of divorce on finances for older adults

Divorce may be twice as likely for people 50 and older in New Jersey and throughout the country compared to previous decades, and since 1990, divorce among the 65 and older age group has tripled. Researchers have wondered whether this could be attributed to major transitions that occur in this age group, including retirement and the empty nest syndrome, but studies do not support this hypothesis.

Instead, what they have found is that the most common reason for divorce among older adults is similar to the reason younger adults end their marriages. They do so because they are dissatisfied with their marriages and do not enjoy spending time with their spouse. Statistically, first marriages are less vulnerable to divorce than second marriages, and the longer a marriage lasts, the less likely it is to end in divorce. Divorce is also more likely for people whose parents were divorced. Women who are the children of divorced parents are 60 percent more likely to get a divorce and men are 60 percent more likely.

Older people who get a divorce may struggle with social isolation. They might also have a less secure retirement. It costs more to maintain two households than one, and divorced women 65 and older have an 80 percent greater likelihood of living in poverty than divorced men in that age group.

With this in mind, it makes sense for older people to try to safeguard their financial security during divorce. This means taking steps to ensure that they receive a fair share of the marital property. They may prefer negotiating this instead of litigation. Some older couples may own assets that are difficult to divide or that may incur penalties or other taxes.

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