Terrible Financial Thinking and Divorce

Terrible Financial Thinking and Divorce

I recently came across a clickbait article filled with terrible thinking about the so-called financial “benefits” of divorce. Click here to read “7 Little-Known Financial Benefits of Divorce: Divorce is often devastating, but there are a few financial silver linings.”

In the article the writer claims the so-called 7 benefits of divorce to be:

“1. Easier budgeting and greater control over money.”

In support of this argument the writer claims that if you divorce a spendthrift or tight-fisted spouse you no longer have to contend with that spouse over money and spending. Well, sure, but not everyone who gets divorced has such a spouse. ‘Fact is that for the overwhelming majority of people divorce leaves you poorer (especially if you’re a woman). So yeah, you may have more control over your money, but you also have less of it (usually a lot less of it) to control.

“2. Early access to a retirement fund, penalty-free.”

It’s amusing that the writer would claim divorce gives you more control over money, and then suggests that as a result of your divorce you should raid your retirement account.

Even the writer had this to say about the so-called “benefits” of cashing out some or all of your retirement account: “Cashing out part of a retirement account can be a risky move,” and “Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Services, cautions people not to be too hasty about withdrawing money from an account.” . . . “Don’t make any decisions without the advice of an attorney and a financial planner,” he says. Mortgaging your future is usually a sucker’s bet.

“3. Potentially better investment returns.”

This is laugh out loud ludicrous. The argument for this supposed benefit is (and I’m not making this up) that by getting divorced you are now free to invest your money without needing the consent of your spouse. So this is really just an extension of “benefit” number 1 above. It is a useless truism to claim that divorce could lead to “potentially” better investment returns because it is equally true that divorce could lead to potentially worse investment returns.

“4. More college financial aid for the kids.”

Well, this is true, but translated it really means simply “poor people get financial aid more easily than those who are not poor.” For the overwhelming majority of people, divorce makes them poor(er). If you believe that being so poor that your kids can get more college financial aid is a “benefit,” your definition of “benefit” is rather warped.

“5. Social Security perks for older divorcees.”

This is only a benefit if you consider being divorced a good thing on its own. If you meet the requirements under the Social Security administration rules, a divorced person may qualify for benefits that are greater than what he or she would have had he or she been single at the time of retirement. Again, however, the fact of the matter is that old, retired married people generally enjoy more wealth and a higher standard of living than do single people of the same age.

“6. Opportunity to reset financial priorities.”

Opportunity? Kinda like being chased by a bear is an opportunity to go for a run?

No joke, the article literally includes this cheery statement: “Sometimes it’s financially better to have a smaller house or apartment.” Sure, sure, and the financial benefits of starving include weight loss!

“7. A better bottom line.”

I cannot put it better than the writer did herself:

“The reality is not everyone’s financial situation will improve with divorce, but some people are surprised to learn that it does.”

Yes, some people are surprised if divorce results in an improved financial situation because with rare, rare exception nobody’s lifestyle and wealth increase as a result of divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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