How does a gray divorce affect standard of living?

On Behalf of | Mar 5, 2024 | Divorce

Gray divorce is the dissolution of marriage among adults aged 50 and above. This type of divorce can have significant implications for the standard of living for both men and women.

Understanding how gray divorce affects the standard of living for men and women is helpful for anyone navigating this transition.

Financial implications

Gray divorce can have varying financial implications depending on income, assets and earning potential. For women, who may have taken on more caregiving responsibilities during the marriage, the financial impact of divorce can be particularly challenging. They may face reduced income, a lower standard of living and an increased risk of poverty in retirement. On the other hand, men may experience a decline in assets and retirement savings. This is especially likely if they have to divide marital property with their ex-spouse.

Impacts on retirement planning

A notable effect of gray divorce on the standard of living is its impact on retirement planning. Dividing assets and retirement savings accumulated during the marriage can diminish the retirement nest egg for both parties. Women, in particular, may face greater financial insecurity in retirement. Women tend to live longer than men and may have fewer financial resources available to support themselves. Additionally, the cost of maintaining separate households post-divorce can further strain retirement savings and impact both parties’ standard of living.

Social Security and pension benefits

Gray divorce can also affect Social Security and pension benefits. Divorced individuals may be able to claim Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse’s earnings record, provided they meet certain conditions. However, divorce can impact the eligibility and amount of spousal benefits, potentially reducing retirement income for both men and women. Similarly, the division of pension benefits in a divorce can affect retirement security for both parties. This is particularly true if one spouse was the primary breadwinner during the marriage.

Kiplinger reports that women see their standards of living decline by 45% when their marriages end. Men, meanwhile, see theirs decline by 21%. By understanding these implications and seeking guidance from financial professionals, individuals can better navigate the financial challenges of gray divorce.