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Why do divorced women have less retirement savings than men?

Divorce can have a significant effect on anyone's financial future. However, women tend to be more likely to find themselves at a disadvantage than men. Some have been out of the workforce or only working part-time for many years while raising children. Therefore, they may have less retirement savings than their husbands do. Many women have left the family finances to their husbands, so they haven't dealt with money for some time, if ever. Some have not built up any sort of credit in their own name.

For these reasons and many others, it's essential that women have experienced legal guidance through the divorce process. Otherwise, they can find themselves facing a financially-perilous future. Since women, on average, live longer than men and earn less money, they need to make sure that they can be financially secure for possibly many decades to come.

Financial experts have some recommendations for women who, even with a favorable divorce settlement, need to catch up on their savings after divorce. Some recommended strategies include the following:

-- Contribute as much as possible to your 401(k) or other retirement savings plan. If you're 50 or older, you can take advantage of the "catch-up" contributions that you can make to plans including 401(k)s, IRAs and other retirement savings plans.

-- Paying off your credit card debt before putting money toward savings may not be the best decision. However, start paying for things with cash as much as possible rather than racking up more debt.

-- Look for affordable places to retire. You and your spouse may have envisioned retiring to Maui. As a single person, that may not be possible. However, that doesn't mean that you can't spend your later years in someplace comfortable, yet affordable. AARP.org and many other sites offer guides to affordable retirement living.

If you're concerned about what your retirement savings will look like after your divorce, make sure that your family law attorney is aware of those concerns so that he or she can fight to help you get the assets you rightfully deserve. Further, while you may not feel like you want to pay yet another professional, you may find it's worth the cost in the long run to engage the services of a financial advisor to set you on a good post-divorce financial course.

Source: TheStreet, "How Women Can Play Catch-Up With Their Retirement Savings," Brian O'Connell, Sep. 24, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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