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May 14, 2014

Financially unwinding decades of marriage

Securian survey looks at the financial impact of divorce after a long marriage

ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Divorce after long marriage is on the rise. A study from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research shows the divorce rate among adults 50 and older doubled from 1990 to 2010. 

Experts say the reasons for divorce later in life are the same as any other time – lack of communication and support, disagreements about money, and simply growing apart. What’s not as well-known is the financial impact of divorce after a long marriage. 

Securian Financial Group conducted a survey in February of 546 people who divorced after 10 years or more of marriage. The summary of results, “Grown apart: The financial impact of divorce after a long marriage,” shows the length of a marriage can have an impact on post-divorce finances. 

Retirement benefits

Spousal retirement benefits loomed large in the hindsight of those who took the Securian survey. 

Going into the divorce, nearly one-third (31 percent) say they did not claim a share of their spouse’s retirement benefits and were not aware they could. 

One-fourth say that after the divorce they wish they would have known more about how to correctly divide the benefits and one-fifth (21 percent) wished they’d made sure they’d receive survivor benefits. 

“Couples who divorce after many years of marriage should be well-informed about their spouses’ retirement plans and their rights to a share of that income after the divorce,” said Michelle Hall, market research manager, Securian Financial Group. “A financial advisor who is well-versed in the options under Social Security and qualified retirement plans such as 401(k)s could be a big help when establishing separate streams of income after a long marriage.”

The house

The length of the marriage may help determine who gets the residence: The longer the marriage, the less likely they will want to keep the house.

The people in the Securian survey who were married 20 years or more were more likely (20 percent) to buy out the other’s half of the home than those married 10-19 years (14 percent).

They are also less likely to agree that the ex-spouse should get the residence in the settlement: Only 13 percent of those married 20 years or more agreed to let the spouse have the house compared to nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of those married 10-19 years. 

The financial advisor

The length of the marriage may also have an impact on whether the financial advisor is retained after the divorce.

Among those married 10-19 years, half of those who worked with an advisor during the marriage kept the advisor. But three-fourths (76 percent) of those married 20 years or more dropped their advisors after the divorce. 

Additional findings

  • Those married 10-19 years are more likely to say their finances are better after the divorce -- 36 percent compared to 24 percent of those married 20 years or more. 
  • Forty-three percent of those married 10-19 years feel they are better off now financially than their exes compared to 36 percent of those married 20 years or more. 
  • Among those with annual household incomes below $40,000, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) were married 20 years or more compared to about half (52 percent) of those married 10-19 years.
About Securian Financial Group

Since 1880, Securian Financial Group and its affiliates have provided financial security for individuals and businesses in the form of insurance, investments and retirement plans. Now one of the nation’s largest financial services providers, Securian is the holding company parent of a group of companies that offer a broad range of financial services.

DOFU 4-2014 A02093-0414

Contact Info

Jeff Bakken

Media Relations