Divorce and the Wife’s Role in Financial Investing

Q: What is a gray divorce?

One of the biggest factors to consider when older couples get divorced in Arizona involves division of property.

Oftentimes, the children of older couples are grown and long gone, so the issues of child support, custody and visitation that many divorcing younger couples have to face are non-issues in a “gray divorce”.

Back in the old days, men were historically the breadwinners and women were usually stay-at-home moms. Housekeeping and childcare were primarily left to the women while financial matters and investments were generally handled by the men – – often without any input or even knowledge by the women. It turns out, that things are not necessarily different today.

The concept of “gray divorce“–divorce for the over-50 crowd – – and surveys of women who pursue one has revealed that many of today’s baby boomers followed their parents’ footsteps in leaving financial matters and investment decisions to the husbands. Because of that, many wives are surprised – – sometimes happily, sometimes not – – to learn the true financial status of their marital assets portfolio at the time of their divorce.

Interestingly, while the majority of divorced or widowed women (56%) admit to leaving major financial and investment decisions to their husbands, the trend doesn’t seem to be changing as a survey conducted by a wealth management organization indicated that 61% of married millennial women still do the same thing. The survey involved 600 women who were divorced or widowed within the past five years and had a minimum of $250,000 in investments, and also 1,500 couples.

Being a community property state, Arizona generally considers property that couples brought into a marriage to be separate while the property acquired during the marriage is communal. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, at the time of divorce the communal property is inventoried and split as close to 50-50 as possible between the couple.

The survey indicated that many divorced women wish they had been more involved in financial matters during their marriages, encourage other married women to do so, and also take a larger role in financial planning decisions in their future relationships. Even if they didn’t necessarily want to make the decisions, they believe that knowing about all of the couple’s assets and debts would have been wise.  Looking back, 94% of widows and divorcees surveyed “would insist on complete financial transparency with their spouse”.

If you are considering getting divorced, or have questions regarding any family law matter, Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today to request a consultation.

From our office in Phoenix, Arizona, we’ve been helping families in transition throughout Arizona since 1982.