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Older Minnesota women can be financially vulnerable in divorce

In previous blog posts we have talked about the rise in "gray divorce" -- usually defined as divorces involving partners over the age of 50. A divorce late in life can result in more serious financial issues than a divorce involving younger spouses. When someone is older it's more difficult to recover financially from a divorce and there's less time to do it.

These financial challenges are especially hard for older women who get divorced. Most people in Minnesota are aware that there is a gender gap in earnings; women often earn less than men. That gap becomes bigger as people get older. And when older women get divorced, they tend to be more vulnerable financially. According to some researchers, 27 percent of older divorced women are in poverty. For older divorced men, the figure is only 11 percent.

For older women it is critical to fight for a fair result in the property settlement. When a couple divorces in Minnesota, the court divides all their marital property between them on an equitable basis. Marital property is basically all property obtained during the marriage by either spouse. It does not include gifts or inheritances received by only one spouse. In determining whether an asset is marital or non-marital property, it makes no difference whose name is on the title.

Getting a fair award of alimony is also of great importance for an older woman going through divorce. A woman who left the workforce to care for children at home will often need an award of spousal support to help her become financially independent.

A women over 50 who is contemplating divorce needs to be vigilant in protecting her financial interests. Working with a knowledgeable family law attorney who will fight aggressively for what the client deserves can make a big difference.

Source: Forbes, "Gray Divorce: A Financial Double Whammy For Women," Jeff Landers, July 13, 2016

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