Over 50s find their financial feet post divorce

Nia Williams

September 22, 2011

The research shows that gaining financial independence is a major challenge.

The traumatic decision to get divorced means having to set up a new home, opening a bank and saving accounts, take out new insurance policies and think about longer term financial planning and investments – often for the very first time.

Women are far less likely to have been involved in any long-term financial planning with less than a third (26%) saying they took responsibility for managing the ‘bigger’ financial decisions whilst married. Prior to divorce, a quarter (25%) of all these over 50-something women admit that they had never considered savings options, a third (34%) had never applied for a mortgage and one in 10 had no financial products or accounts in their name.

The report entitled “Footloose and 53? A study of financial management and priorities amongst over 50s divorcees”, was commissioned by Tesco Bank to explore the financial pressures faced by over 50s when going through a divorce. It is the second in the Tesco Bank “Family Matters” series Family Matters Series: Every Little Helpers and provides new insights into the financial priorities and pressures of divorced men and women in this age group.

Sue Hayward, journalist in money, consumer and family finance issues, said “There’s usually one partner who holds the purse strings in a relationship and it can be daunting if you’re left financially single when you separate but the trick is to sort your finances in bite sized chunks; tackle one area at a time and make use of all the help that’s available.”

Gaining financial control can ultimately be an empowering experience, particularly for women, according to the findings. Almost two thirds (63%) of women who divorced in their fifties said that dealing with financial arrangements helped them to gain a sense of power and control during the painful process, but just a third (36%) of men agreed. Similarly, two thirds (64%) of women said going through a divorce gave them a sense of financial freedom, compared with just half (50%) of men.

Paula Hall, counsellor with Relate and author of “How to Have a Healthy Divorce”, added: “Divorce ends around 40% of marriages in Britain and is an experience that can temporarily leave individuals and families feeling devastated. Fortunately, it is possible to break up, without breaking down.

“There are many practical and financial pressures that the newly single have to face and when emotions are running high these can feel especially difficult to manage. For many the task of organising and planning their finances gives a sense of external order and control.”

George Gordon, head of communications, Tesco Bank, said: “We commissioned the Tesco Bank “Family Matters” series of research to get a better understanding of some of the financial pressures faced by our customers.

“The second report in our series sheds light on a growing trend of later life separation and the financial pressures this can create for the over-50s, particularly those who have had limited financial independence in the past.

“What is clear from this research is that whilst divorce is clearly a difficult and traumatic experience at any age, for the over fifties, overcoming the financial challenges it presents can ultimately help restore confidence and independence.”

Sign up to our daily email