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When the writing is on the wall older women, in particular, need to be smart and prepare for a gray divorce. After all, women are more likely than recently divorced men to suffer as a result of a breakup. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, the standard of living for women who divorce after the age of 50 declines on average by 45 percent. For men, it’s a 21 percent decline.
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“The person who is disadvantaged in a divorce is the person who is not the breadwinner,” says Chris Manske, president of Manske Wealth Management. “Most of the couples that are in their 50s and 60s the man is still predominantly the breadwinner. This puts women at a disadvantage in divorce.”
Divorce can happen at any age. Instead of being ashamed or paralyzed with fear women can take steps to prepare, which include:
1. Think about your needs and worry about the bank accounts later
Divorce can be bitter and acrimonious, which is why so many women worry about finding out where all the money and assets are before they sign a divorce decree. They want to make sure they get their fair share and it’s split down the middle. But even more important in the early stage of a breakup is figuring out your post-divorce requirements so you can survive and thrive as a divorcée. “A lot of people think, 'I have to find out where all our money is, I need to know where the assets are,' but that’s a step in the wrong direction because it’s limiting,” says Manske. “If she's thinking about where everything is, she's not thinking about her requirements.” Instead of leading with where the assets are, Manske says to consider what you need to be comfortable and have a sustainable life. Once you know that, it’s easier to figure out the support and assets worth fighting for.