Is a Relationship the Worst Financial Risk You Can Take?

A marriage is two people deciding to tie their lives together. Unfortunately, should that marriage not work out untying those lives can be very, very costly.

Especially for women.

The Guardian cites a new study by Chartered Insurance Institute (CII), called “Risk, exposure and resilience to risk in Britain today”. The research finds that in Britain, women are more likely to be left financially "vulnerable" should their marriage end in a divorce or separation.

It shows the average divorced woman in Britain, though she is 10 percent more likely to rely on a state pension, has less than a third of the pension wealth of the average divorced man, 41 percent of whom have pensions through their jobs.

And it's not any better in the United States.

The financial price of a divorce is huge. There's legal fees, court costs that go along with the splitting of a couple's assets. On top of that, all your costs double. Separate residences mean two times the rent, two electric bills, etc. And when there are children involved, according to Bloombergmany women trade their retirement assets to hold on to their family home to allow the kids to have an easier transition.

As a result, divorced people are less likely to have retirement savings and are therefore more likely to be poor in their old age.

Even if your divorce is entirely amicable, you're still starting completely fresh and Nigel Shepherd, chair of divorce mediation organization Resolution says, men generally have an easier time recovering.

"A couple who have been married 30 years and divorce in their mid-50s, may split everything equally, but there is still a built-in inequality in the ability to rebuild from that point," Shepherd tells The Guardian.

"We are seeing cases where the man is the lower earner but that's not the normal way round; men are more likely to be the earners and divorce is not designed to be equal forever. You go into it unequal and end up unequal."

According to the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, the poverty rate for married Americans over the age of 62 is just 3.4 percent. For those that divorced before the age of 50, that goes up to 16 percent, and for those who divorced after 50, it goes up even further to 19 percent.

Which is bad, but even worse for women. For men that divorce after 50 the number is 11.4 percent. For women, it's 27 percent.

Marriage at its core is a risk.

You're putting all your metaphoric chips into one basket that you hope and believe will fulfill you and take care of you for the rest of your life.

You can believe, know, with all your heart that you're going to be with that person for the rest of your life and still protect yourself should the worst happen.

Emma Cooper, a mother of three primary-school-age children, who is going through a divorce wishes she had protected herself more.

"I gave up my job to follow my husband round the world with his career, and now I can't get back into work," she tells The Guardian.

"The biggest problem with divorce is that most people don't agree, and that's why they're getting divorced. If I had any advice for women now thinking of getting married I'd say never, never, never give up your financial independence. No matter how difficult it may seem, keep one toe in the water: it may make the difference between sinking and swimming."

So, while it might be unromantic to talk about financial independence when discussing a marriage, it might just be the best thing you do for yourself.


H/t: The Guardian