It is no secret that money is a top concern for most households. It has often been said that money issues are also a main reason people get divorced. However, in some cases, worry about finances after divorce also causes many people to stay married, particularly women.
There have been many studies conducted on how money affects stress levels in both men and women. In Stress in America: Paying With Our Health, a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 64 percent of Americans are worried about money. That number reaches even higher for parents. Seventy-seven percent of those with children believe the cost of raising them is leaving them tapped financially.
That study, among many others, focus on individuals as a whole, though. Why are women so stressed about money, and why does it lead to them remaining in an unhappy marriage?
Women and the Stress of Money
It is true that worries about money affect both men and women. However, it is clear that women worry more about it. A study conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers titled the 2019 Employee Financial Wellness Survey, showed that 65 percent of women said their finances caused them the most stress, while only 52 percent of men said the same. So, why are women so stressed about money that it can actually cause them to remain in an unhappy marriage?
For many, the unfortunate truth is that women simply do not have as much cash as men.
This is especially true for couples that have children. With the high cost of child care around the country, it simply does not make sense for both parents to work. Typically, all or most of one spouse’s income would go toward child care if both parents worked. Instead, one spouse — usually the mother — stays home to raise the children. Her finances already start dwindling at this point.
After a divorce, women understand that they will need to reenter the workforce now that they do not have another income to rely on. Unfortunately, that is also incredibly difficult to do. The fact that they have been out of the workforce for so long, sometimes as long as 15 to 18 years, makes obtaining gainful employment difficult. Women typically have to start at the bottom all over again, regardless of where they were in their career before deciding to stay at home.
The fact that women cannot make as much as money after divorce is only compounded by the fact that they are still dependent on their partner for food, housing, and other basic necessities. Add to this the fact that divorcing means legal fees, division of property, and possibly child support, it is easy to see why women weigh financial matters so heavily when considering divorce.
In the end, the worry about finances after divorce is simply too great. So, women remain in an unhappy marriage rather than worry about how they will make ends meet for the next several years.
Should Money Keep Women from Divorce?
There is perhaps nothing scarier than the unknown. When women are facing a new life full of uncertainties, it is easier to choose the path they already know. That is true even if that life is toxic, involves a bad relationship, and in many cases, even abuse.
However, when women want to leave a marriage they should know that they will likely live a happier life afterward, even if they do not have as much money. A study conducted by Avvo showed that the large majority of women were happy with their decision to leave an unhappy marriage. These women did also state that dealing with their finances after divorce is much more difficult.
What Can Women Do?
The fact is that facing divorce is scary, for both men and women. Additionally, no one should ever have to stay in an unhappy marriage due to the fear of finances after divorce. So, what can women do to give them the courage and confidence they need to remove themselves from a bad situation?
First, they must get to know their finances. In many marriages, one spouse handles all the money and bill-paying, which gives them an advantage over their spouse. It is particularly important to understand everything there is to know about the assets a couple owns.
If there is a vehicle, how many payments are left on it, or is it owned outright? If the latter is true, what is the current value of the vehicle? These facts are crucial to know because in the event of a divorce, it is important to know how those assets are split, and how much each spouse is likely to receive.
Additionally, it is also important to understand how much money is required to pay for everyday expenses. That means women and men alike must determine what those expenses will be after divorce. Then, try to reach a divorce settlement that will cover those costs.
In many cases, it is especially helpful to work with a divorce financial planner. These professionals can educate divorcing men and women about the bigger financial picture. They can also show how individuals can continue saving for retirement, even at a time when their finances have taken a hit. Divorce financial planners can help those going through a divorce create a budget so they are spending wisely, and even how to put money aside for college and other investments.
It is also important that anyone considering divorce should take spousal maintenance into the equation. If either parent stayed home during the marriage to take care of the children, a judge will take this into consideration when making decisions on alimony.
In a community property state it is unlikely that the stay-at-home parent would receive more property than the other. However, judges have discretion when awarding spousal maintenance. When one spouse is going to suffer a great deal more financially than the other, a judge will typically award more in maintenance.
Divorce financial planners and family law attorneys often work together side by side when a person is going through a divorce. The financial planner will evaluate the total costs a person will have after divorce and how much money they will need to make ends meet. The attorney on the other hand, will effectively negotiate to garner a settlement that will cover all of those costs.
In the end, it is possible to get out of an unhappy marriage and move on to a more satisfying lifestyle, even when the financial burden seems too great. The key is to work with professionals that will ensure that does not happen, and that you will be happy in your new life. They will ensure financial mistakes are not made during the divorce, as these can make life significantly harder after divorce.
About the Author
Billie Tarascio is the owner and founder of Modern Law and Access Legal in Arizona. She knew from the young age of ten that she wanted to be an attorney. After her parents went through a divorce when she was 19, she knew family law was her calling. She wanted to help families the same way the attorneys involved in her parents’ case helped them. She graduated from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2005. Today, she is not only a skilled attorney, but also a national speaker, consultant to other law firms, and has been awarded the Client Distinction award. That award has been given to fewer than four percent of lawyers in the country.