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Rise in divorce among older people could mean financial problems

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With divorce on the rise for people over 50, older couples in Louisiana might be more likely to split up than their parents or grandparents were. However, a survey by UBS Global Wealth Management found that many couples still fall into traditional patterns of money management. The study surveyed 1,500 couples and 600 women who had been widowed or divorced in the last five years. It found that 56 percent of women left major financial decision and investments in their husband's hands. More millennial women, at 61 percent, reported this arrangement than baby boomer women at 54 percent.

However, nearly all the divorced and widowed women said that in retrospect, they should have been equal participants in financial decision-making. Over half said they were surprised by something financial after their marriages ended. Negative surprises included learning about hidden debts or spending. Women in second marriages were much more likely, at 80 percent, to become involved in marital finances.

Nevertheless, leaving the husband with the responsibility for the finances appears to be a persistent practice. Far more men than women described themselves as comfortable with investing while most parents with children younger than 21 said they had no problem with the idea of their daughters' future husbands managing the finances.

Spouses who have not dealt with the family finances, and particularly those who have not worked outside the home, may need to familiarize themselves with financial matters to avoid being at a disadvantage during the divorce. They may want to take financial records to an attorney to discuss the situation and look into establishing their own lines of credit. Divorcing at an older age may introduce a number of challenges. People have fewer working years to recover financially from the divorce, and it may be necessary to budget for a retirement originally meant to be spent together.

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Craig E. Gibbs, Attorney at Law
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