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What is Gray Divorce, and How Can a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® Professional Help?


A CDFA® can help protect your assets when you untie the knot.

By Robert Harty, CDFA®
Financial Advisor
Senior Vice President
Wealth Management


Overall divorce rates have been falling over the last several decades, but the rate of married couples over age 50 calling it quits has doubled since 1990. Additionally, people in their second marriages are traditionally more at risk for divorce. This phenomenon, known as “gray divorce,” may be linked to longer life expectancies, increased financial independence, and the trend among young people holding off on marriage to divorce-proof their futures.

Unlike younger divorcées, older couples may face different types of financial complications as they divide their households, as well as years of accumulated savings and assets. Going through the process alone can involve unforeseen surprises and may be more financially draining than expected. However, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professional, or a CDFA® professional, can help you minimize the financial consequences.

If you’re facing a gray divorce, here are four ways a CDFA® can help keep your financial life on track.

  1. Combat Financial Uncertainty
    When older, more established couples decide to untie the knot, their wealth and resources are often split in half. In some cases, only one of the spouses is employed or previously managed household finances. Some individuals may later discover that what they can afford in their new circumstances is drastically different. Women who divorce their partners later in life are at a higher risk for suffering financially. If any of the above resonates with you, a CDFA® professional can help you avoid financial uncertainty by conducting a comprehensive analysis of your financial situation and working alongside you to build a financial plan that supports your short- and long-term income needs.
  2. Save Time
    Many older couples may feel like time isn’t on their side once they’ve made the decision to part ways. However, some issues and discussions unique to gray divorce can be time consuming, including sorting out retirement and health care benefits, redefining beneficiaries, and arranging income support. A CDFA® professional can help make the divorce process more efficient by working with your attorney to help answer your questions and can walk you through the settlement process.
  3. Protect Your Retirement
    The nature of gray divorce means there may be less time to recover from the potential financial impact of unwinding years of savings and retirement benefits. The complex rules of Social Security, for example, can be especially difficult to navigate in divorce. Your CDFA® professional can help ensure you receive your fair share of retirement income so you can pursue a retirement that aligns with your expectations. They can also help you understand the retirement-related implications of future decisions you make, such as remarriage.
  4. Protect Your Legacy
    If you’re over the age of 50, you and your spouse may have discussed how you’re going to eventually pass down your shared wealth. However, dividing your assets in a gray divorce could impact those original plans, including how much your children or loved ones receive when you’re no longer around. A CDFA® professional can assess your estate plan and help develop a strategy to ensure your wealth will be distributed according to your wishes.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Gray Divorce
It’s possible that the uncertainty and stress associated with COVID-19 could lead to an even greater surge in gray divorces. Couples may be facing financial and interpersonal challenges caused or intensified by the pandemic.

If you’re considering a gray divorce, a CDFA® professional can provide the guidance you need to help protect your financial future. If you’re in North Texas and would like to learn more about what a CDFA® professional can do for you, schedule a call with me today. If you’re located elsewhere, find a HilltopSecurities financial professional near you.

This information should not be utilized as a substitute for legal, accounting, or professional advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a qualified professional must be sought. Even though Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® professionals are aware of the law, they do not practice law and do not give legal advice. The information may not apply to your unique situation. This information does not take the place of a lawyer, accountant, financial planner, therapist, etc.; for professional advice, you must seek counsel from the appropriate professional.

Rob Harty, CDFA®, is a Financial Advisor with Hilltop Securities Inc. (HTS) and may act as a Financial Advisor outside of his CDFA® obligations. HTS makes no claim that the use of this communication will assure a successful outcome.

HTS is a registered broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and municipal advisor firm that does not provide tax or legal advice. This document is not an offer or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any investment or other specific product or service.HTS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hilltop Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: HTH) located at 1201 Elm Street, Suite 3500, Dallas, Texas 75270. Member: NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

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