The core philosophy of property division during divorce is fairness. A couple’s marital assets are supposed to be divided in an equitable manner – not necessarily split 50/50, but in a way that is fair-minded based on each individual and their situation.
What these rulings often don’t account for, however, is a troubling trend: Divorce often impacts women financially in a much more severe manner than it does men.
How divorce can affect income
There has been some solid research in recent years looking at how the financial situation of men and women can differ following divorce.
For example, one study found that women who were working before, during or after the marriage saw a 20% drop in income after separating, according to The Atlantic. The story cites another study that found the poverty rate for divorced women was at 27% – about three times the poverty rate for divorced men.
That’s not all. There were also studies that found a woman’s household income fell an average of 41% after a divorce, more than twice the average drop seen by men. Women also see their credit scores fall more often.
There are some potential explanations for this. If one spouse decides to leave work and pause their career in order to raise a child, that time off can have a negative impact on that person’s earnings. In addition, there was some research that suggested being the primary caregiver of children after divorce limits a woman’s earning potential. It can also raise their living expenses, despite child support payments.
All of this research underscores the importance of proper financial planning during divorce (particularly for those separating after the age of 50). You may want to approach this by:
- Looking at your debts and assets
- Figuring out your expenses – and what you can reasonably afford
- Prioritizing your long-term financial security
A divorce is not always predictable, and you can’t plan for every possible outcome. You can put yourself in the best position to succeed, however, by understanding the reality of the situation, thinking ahead and finding someone to be a strong advocate on your behalf during the divorce process.