The poverty rates for couple who separate or divorce are much higher than the overall population. The two groups that are hit hardest by a break up include women and children. The two leading reasons for the increase in poverty include the legal expenses for the process itself as well as the reduction in income, as women are still not provided the same opportunity or income as men in today’s day and age.
Studies, including from the London School of Economics as well as data from the Census Bureau, indicate that even when a couple separates the poverty rate for women shoots up to 27%, which is 300% higher than that for the separated male which stands at about 9%. We have also reported on how children who live with single mothers also have a much higher chance of living in poverty, with their poverty rate approaching upwards of 40%. The data says that when a relationship ends, or a separation occurs, there is a financial impact to all parties, with women and the kids impacted the greatest.
I too am going through a challenging period that included a separation, as my wife fairly recently wrote about on her experiences for Tiny Buddha “picked up” for publication. We are fortunate in that we are not faced with poverty or some of the other same financial challenges as most couples, but I do have some first-hand experience with the process.
Reasons for increased poverty
There are two big ones. First of all, the total cost of a divorce will average between $8,500 and $100,000 per Divorce Magazine. This can include legal fees, court costs, lawyers, and other expenses. While in some cases, and in some states, there are “do it yourself” ways to file for a divorce and the process will be much lower than $8500, the process can still be expensive for many families.
The up front costs are even more challenging when considering that most Americans have no emergency funds to their name. Most households have no “rainy day” savings. In fact Bank Rate says only about 39% of Americans can cover an emergency expense over $1000.
Another major reason for the increased poverty rates is the reduction in income. The fact is that there is still a major gender pay gap in this country. Multiple studies show that women only earn about 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Males still dominate corporate offices, managerial roles, executive positions, and many other job opportunities. Women are just not paid the same as men or treated fairly, which is 100% wrong and we will report more on this huge discrepancy in genders at some later point.
Males may also skimp on alimony as well as child support pay,ments, which also contributes to the 27% poverty rate of females. Too many men do not do the right thing, and stop paying the bills or do not provide the funds their child may need. I also know that on a first-hand basis from my childhood. Even if a divorce court or lawyer mandates payments per a separation agreement, males may fight it. Or they just do not pay it and take their chances with the legal system. This of course can also lead to extreme financial hardship as well as put the women and kids on a path to poverty.
The separation and/or divorce will also take away the males income from the household earnings. And considering most families spend every dollar they make in pursuit of goods, materials, etc. when one income goes away it causes a tremendous hardship and maybe lead to poverty.
The often drawn out process itself can also cause reductions in income. There can be more stress from a divorce, more missed time at work due to court dates/stress/sickness, additional strain for child care and other health challenges. All of this will hit a family’s finances in a negative way.
When a relationship ends, either in divorce or a separation, there are of course emotional hardships. But another hardship is financial and increased poverty rates, which is not often reported on.