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Why divorcing women are still at a financial disadvantage

Even in the 21st century, there is a financial wellness gender gap. Women tend to have lower-paying jobs than men, invest and save less of their incomes and have greater credit card debt. Many stop working outside the home for a time to take care of their children or move to part-time work. This makes resuming your career more difficult if and when you need to.

All of this can be a problem for women who divorce — particularly if they do so in their later years. They often find themselves without enough money to support themselves or the money management skills to improve their financial situation as they find themselves in the position of being self-supporting. Lifetime alimony is increasingly uncommon. Many judges expect the person receiving spousal support to get the education and/or training they need to become self-supporting.

Even if a woman doesn’t see divorce in her future, there are steps that financial advisors recommend that they take. These are sound financial recommendations for anyone regardless of gender or marital status. Of course, they are especially crucial for women in the midst of a divorce. There’s no guarantee of how much spousal support you’ll receive or for how long it will continue.

— Pay down credit card debt to minimize or eliminate unnecessary interest expense.

— Contribute the maximum you can afford to your employer-sponsored retirement plan (at least the maximum amount that they’ll match).

— Have enough savings to get you through at least a few months (preferably a year) in case you lose your job.

— Take part in the household budgeting and financial planning. Too many women still leave that to their husbands and then find themselves at a disadvantage if the marriage ends (or the husband dies).

If you are going through a divorce and need some help handling financial matters on your own, your Louisiana family law attorney can likely recommend some good resources. He or she can also work to get you the support that you need until you are able to stand on your own feet financially.

Source: Forbes, “The Financial Wellness Gender Gap: Concerning For All Women, Dangerous For Women Divorcing In 2016,” Jeff Landers, Jan. 11, 2016

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