Since the 1990s, the rate at which people over 50 years old get divorced has doubled. It has been termed “gray divorce,” and it is more common than ever in the United States.

Experts warn that this can lead to a lot of financial challenges, especially for women. No matter how you feel about traditional gender roles, the reality is that men are still the main financial planners in most marriages. Studies have shown that women defer to their husbands in this regard in 56 percent of cases.

This means that most women who get divorced after 50 suddenly have to take on financial roles that they have not been thinking about for years or perhaps even decades. Most of them are fine with that during marriage. When asked, a full 80 percent said that the division of financial responsibilities in the relationship left them feeling content.

It could underscore a very real problem, though — and this is true for men who defer to women and are not involved in financial planning, too. Ether spouse could be at risk because now, so close to retirement, he or she has to learn everything about financial planning and decision-making.

After all, a study found that 85 percent of women who let their husbands make all of the long-term financial choices said that they did so because they simply did not know as much as their spouse.

Is this lack of financial knowledge going to hurt during or after a divorce? It is very important for men and women alike to completely understand their financial picture and how to work through the divorce to fight for the best possible future.

Source: Bloomberg, “Rise of ‘Gray’ Divorce Forces Financial Reckoning After 50,” Suzanne Woolley, April 13, 2018