Divorce Hits Women Harder Financially Than Men

Elle Silver

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Research shows that divorce hits women far harder financially than it does men. The United States Government Accountability Office’s Special Report to the Senate released a study showing that a woman’s household income plummets by an average of 41% after a divorce. A divorced man's household income only falls by half as much.

What's the reason for this? There are several.

One reason is that women already earn less than men on average. Women bring home 78 cents to the dollar of what men typically earn.

Second, women are more likely to be the family caregivers. After a divorce, if there are children, women typically take over the childcare duties.

According to a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau report, only one of every six custodial parents were men. Unfortunately, this disrupts a woman's ability to work.

She may not be able to work as much as she wants. She has to be around to drive the kids to their after-school activities, et cetera. A divorced mom's job opportunities are, therefore, limited.

She may only be able to take jobs close to home. She can't take jobs that require her to travel.

These factors all make divorce harder on a woman financially.

Divorced moms are further more likely to keep the family house. While this may look beneficial at first glance, it also means a woman is in charge of mortgage payments, property taxes, and the general upkeep of a house.

All that is expensive.

What's worse, just because a divorced dad is supposed to pay child support doesn't mean he will. According to more data from a 2013 U.S. Census Bureau report, less than half of custodial parents (read: moms) received full child-support payments.

It’s very clear that financially speaking, divorce affects women much harder than it does men.

I should know. This was my experience.

My divorce affected me worse financially than it did my now ex-husband.

I’m a testament that divorce hits women harder financially than it does men. I have the kids 85% of the time. That has impacted my ability to work.

There are jobs I can’t take because they’re not close to home. I need a job near our house so I can pick up my kids from school.

If they need me during the day, I have to be nearby. I can't travel for work because the majority of the parenting burden falls on me.

Sadly, I didn’t get to keep the house because we lost it before our divorce. This meant that after I left my husband, I had to rent a larger, more expensive apartment than he did, because the kids went to live with me.

Though my ex does pay child support, there was a time when he didn't because he was unemployed. Then he wasn't giving me child support at all.

This affected my ability to get back onto my feet after our divorce. Even once he started paying child support, he doesn't pay me much.

He’s a teacher, so his salary is low. But he also has lower living costs because his rent is less expensive.

That's good for him but bad for me.

I’m slowly trying to rebuild my life, as many divorced women have to. I've taken a serious financial hit as a result of my divorce.

Still, I’m glad I’m out of my marriage. Even if I’m living in a small apartment now and no longer have the financial stability I had when I was married, I’m still glad I’m divorced.

I’d rather struggle financially than be miserable in an unhappy marriage.

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Journalist and relationships expert. I write about Los Angeles as well as about dating, divorce, and family.

Los Angeles, CA
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