Older California couples may be more vulnerable to divorce than they were in the past. The divorce rate for couples over 50 has doubled since the 1990s. However, for people who have not handled the marital finances, divorce may be particularly difficult as they might be learning about financial matters for the first time in their lives.
According to a report published by UBS Global Wealth Management, women are more likely than men to be in the dark when it comes to marital finances. This tendency cuts across generational lines with 54 percent of baby boomer women and 61 percent of millennial women saying their husbands make the investment decisions in the family. However, a lack of transparency about finances means that women going through a divorce may encounter some surprises such as debt or spending habits they were unaware of.
Divorced and widowed women who remarried have a greater tendency to get involved in marital finances with 80 percent saying they participate in financial decisions. Furthermore, 94 percent of them said, looking back, they should have had financial transparency in the relationship.
A divorce late in life may lead to a number of financial issues even if both people have been equal financial participants in the relationship. When negotiating property division, couples should keep in mind that if they are close to retirement, they will have fewer years to rebuild any financial losses they may suffer in the divorce. Many years of marriage could mean the couple has acquired more assets and they might be facing a complex high-asset divorce. In a community property state like California, most assets acquired by either person during divorce might be considered shared property. This means that if one person brought in the income and made investments, including a retirement account, the other spouse may still have a claim on those assets.