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What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You: Divorce's Financial Fallout

By HERWriter
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What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You: Divorce's Financial Fallout Christin Lola/Fotolia

Kate had been happily married for 23 years. Her husband, John, was a stockbroker on Wall Street. They had two children, a home in New Jersey with a housekeeper, gardener, and pool man, and a summer home in upstate New York. They had everything.

Then one day, John called from work and asked Kate to grab paperwork he needed from his desk in the study. Shuffling through papers, Kate noticed a receipt for a diamond necklace in a red velvet box. Their anniversary had been the week before. John had not given her jewelry.

“Right then and there, I just knew,” Kate shared. “ And I lost it.”

A beautiful wedding, tulle bows draped on the pews, champagne toasts, your mother in a silk suit and your father beaming in a rented tux — this is not when anyone thinks of divorce.

Fast forward 10 years, and it's impossible to pass through one’s thirties or forties without witnessing it happen or experiencing it oneself — the ego-crushing, life-changing destruction that is an unwanted divorce.

One partner, usually the wife, is suddenly left to cope not just with the dissolution of a marriage, the loss of her life’s companion, and diminished self-esteem, but often the threat of poverty.

The Socioeconomics of Divorce

Studies show the economic consequences of divorce affect women more adversely. A long-term study of 600 women followed those women from the time of their divorces in the 1970s until their retirement in the 2000s.

The study compared retirement income of women who remained married their entire lives versus women who resumed their careers after divorce. At retirement, divorced women, even those who resumed successful careers at the end of wedded bliss, earned less than half in Social Security benefits than their ’til-death-do-us-part peers. (1)

Divorced, working women who never remarried had an average Social Security income of $1,000 compared to $2,231 in combined spousal benefits for continuously married women. Women who remarried after divorce did nearly as well, earning more than $2,000 a month. (1)

Leaving the Workforce

1) Divorce is Costly for Women UConn.edu. Retrieved June 9, 2016.

2) Women more than men adjust their careers for family life. PewResearch.org. Retrieved June 9, 2016.

3) What Divorcing Women Need To Know About Alimony ‘Reform’. Forbes.com. Retrieved June 9, 2016.

4) Ten Things I Hate About Prenuptial Agreements. ivkdlaw.com. Retrieved June 10, 2016.

5) Paying for A Divorce Attorney When Your Spouse Has All the Assets. MaineBar.org. Retrieved June 10, 2016.

6) The Divorce Gap. TheAtlantic.com. Retrieved June 10, 2016.

Add a Comment2 Comments

This is very very true. In the end, despite financial poverty and forced change of direction in my life, I still feel I have won. I have terrific relationships with my kids. Their father has very little interaction. All our friends have kept in contact with me. It is crummy it really is because it tears up the children's lives and the moms are the ones who have to pick up the pieces for the children, while still managing to put together their own lives.
This is a well reported article using a great example with some great resources.

June 20, 2016 - 7:52am
HERWriter (reply to OnMyOwn)

Thank you for reading. If divorce is inevitable, I wish more women could win morally and financially.

June 21, 2016 - 12:38pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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