California residents who are getting a divorce and have had little experience managing the marital finances might have to learn about these matters for the first time. A study by UBS Global Wealth Management found it is not unusual for women to leave financial and investing decisions to their husbands. With the divorce rate for older couples doubling since the 1990s, this means that some people could be headed into retirement with little financial experience.
The survey of 1,500 couples and 600 widowed or divorced women found that traditional roles in which the husbands handled investment and financial decisions were not uncommon across generations. Among millennial women, 61 percent let their husbands make the investments while 54 percent of baby boomer women reported the same. A majority of parents who had children younger than 21 also said they did not object to the idea of a daughter’s future husband taking on this role.
However, widowed and divorced women tended to regret their decision to not participate in financial decision-making. Over half were surprised by financial information that came to light after the marriage ended whether it was positive, such as an unexpected retirement account, or more negative such as a former spouse’s hidden debt or spending habits. Nearly all said they wished there had been greater financial transparency.
A lack of knowledge about the marital finances can put a person at a disadvantage in a divorce, so the first step for some people might be to try to look over tax returns, bank statements, credit reports and similar documents and get a sense of the household income, assets, debts and expenses. Most of the assets acquired by either person during the marriage are considered community property in California and will be split between both people.