The numbers that were released by Statistics Canada a couple of weeks regarding the latest census study continue to unveil some interesting facts about the makeup of the nation; and how we’re living our lives. One of the latest reports focuses on the numbers of senior citizens that have recently divorced. The numbers show that “grey divorce” is rising in Canada, and that it’s leaving many financially unprepared.
The above chart shows just how common it’s becoming. But even though the amount of men over 65 and divorced doubled the amount of women in the same situation and of the same age, it’s mostly women that are affected by “grey divorce.” And it’s also more women that are choosing to leave their husbands, rather than the old cliche of husbands leaving their older wives for much younger women. Unfortunately, women are typically also much worse off after a grey divorce than their recent ex’s are.
“Financially, it’s devastating,” says Ms. O’Connor, a professor at the University of British Columbia and someone who left her husband at the age of 50. “Emotionally these women are way better off.”
Ms. Connor says that divorce at this age is common; and that she’s not surprised at all to hear that it’s women that are starting to make that decision more often.
She says that it’s because it’s at this time that the children have left the home and women don’t feel as responsible for providing the same kind of home for them. She says this makes it a a good time for them to leave unhappy marriages that unfortunately, they may have wanted to leave for some time.
But, Susan Eng of the national seniors advocacy group, CARP, says, along with this emotional freedom can come some pretty harsh realities. And that those realities too, are going to affect women more than they will men.
“In this generation, we still have quite a lot of women who are stay-at-home mothers. When they divorce for all the same reasons as other people divorce, they don’t have the same things to fall back on as perhaps younger people who are still working,” she says.
So, what’s the answer? Well it’s certainly not to stay in an unhappy marriage for the sake of an easier cost of living. But, says Ms. Eng, people certainly need an education.
“If you were barely making it before, you’re going to definitely suffer a blow to your standard of living,” she says. “There is reality to that. There really is no good way of sugar-coating that.”
Tina Di Vito of Bank of Montreal, agrees, saying that it’s also important to be educated about what you’re entitled to upon divorce.
“There’s going to be a division of property,” she says. “Assets are going to be divided, which could include things like the home, and could include Registered Retirement Savings Plan assets. Pensions like Canadian Pension Plan credits are eligible for splitting upon marriage dissolution. There are also entitlements to pension company plans, regardless of the age you are.”