New Survey of CPA Financial Planners Explores Financial Impact of Divorce on Retirement

Women More Likely Than Men to Take Positive Financial Steps

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Most happy couples don’t spend time thinking about what their life would
look like in the event of a divorce. However unromantic the idea of
discussing a retirement plan with your significant other may be, it’s
crucial that both individuals in a marriage have a working knowledge of
the family finances – just in case. In fact, three-in-four (75.6
percent) retirement age divorcees need a better understanding of how to
manage their personal finances, according to a new Personal
Financial Planning (PFP) Trends Survey
of CPA financial planners
from the AICPA. And as the divorce rate for Americans over the age of 50
has doubled since 1990, an increasing number of Americans near
retirement age will find themselves scrambling to solidify their
finances as they approach their golden years.

As marriages sour and couples divorce, there are stark differences in
how men and women approach their finances as they prepare for
retirement. The survey found they were equally as likely to experience a
deterioration of their spending habits post-divorce (women: 25.7
percent, men: 24.9 percent), but the similarities ended there.

CPA financial planners say their female clients are far more likely to
adopt positive financial behaviors post-divorce than their male clients.
In fact, women are twice as likely to seek out a job (40.2 percent to
20.6 percent) and increase their savings toward retirement (41.3 to 16.4
percent). Women were found to be almost four times more likely than men
to improve their spending habits (42.3 percent to 11.7 percent) and
roughly fourteen times more likely than men to actively seek out
financial advice after divorce (60.4 percent to 4.4 percent).

“When couples get divorced later in life, there is often one partner in
the relationship who handled all of the finances – in my experience,
it’s usually the husband particularly in Boomer-age couples. In many
instances, this leads to one person in the relationship not having an
accurate picture of the family finances, including their retirement
savings,” said Tracy Stewart, CPA/PFS, member of the AICPA’s Personal
Financial Planning Executive Committee. “It is essential that couples
who get divorced later in life take a long view when dividing assets and
making financial decisions.”

The survey also asked CPA financial planners what steps would have
better prepared their clients near retirement age financially for
divorce. The most frequently cited were understanding how to manage
personal finances (75.6 percent), understanding the long-term financial
planning consequences of a divorce settlement (73.0 percent) and
understanding the tax implications of a divorce settlement (56.9

“When happily married couples are making financial decisions, they very
rarely consider what would happen in the event they divorce. The
unfortunate truth is that the process of dividing assets is a lot more
complicated than saving and investing. The good news is that CPA
financial planners have a strong foundation in tax planning and can help
ensure that a divorce is settled in as tax-efficient a way as possible,”
said Stewart. “Divorce is a complex financial event that often means
calculating spousal support or child support, making sense of pensions
and investments, and deciding what to do with the house. Until both
parties understand exactly what they have, they can’t realistically make
a financial plan for the future.”

The additional steps CPA financial planners felt would have better
prepared their clients for divorce were updating wills or trusts (51.2
percent), increasing saving for retirement (50.7 percent) and decreasing
spending (42.8 percent), reflecting the importance of keeping documents
accurate and up to date and building up savings before assets are split
– good advice for couples at any stage of their marriage. Interestingly,
roughly one in three planners (36.1 percent) cited establishing a
pre-nuptial agreement as a step that would better prepare their clients
financially for divorce.

Regardless of if a couple is recently married or together for years,
Stewart urges that both parties establish open and regular communication
about their financial life and plans for retirement and work to get on
the same page about their approach to saving and spending.

To speak with a CPA financial planner about the survey results, contact
James Schiavone at 212-596-6119,
or Jon Lynch at 212-596-6033,


The AICPA’s PFP Trends Survey is administered as an online survey to
CPAs who are members of the AICPA Personal Financial Planning Section,
including those holding the CPA/PFS credential.

About the AICPA’s PFP Division

The AICPA’s Personal Financial Planning (PFP) Section is the premier
provider of information, tools, advocacy, and guidance for CPAs who
specialize in providing estate, tax, retirement, risk management, and
investment planning advice to individuals, families, and business
owners. The primary objective of the PFP Section is to support its
members by providing resources that enable them to perform valuable PFP
services in the highest professional manner.

CPA financial planners are held to the highest ethical standards and are
uniquely able to integrate their extensive knowledge of tax and business
planning with all areas of personal financial planning to provide
objective and comprehensive guidance for their clients. The AICPA offers
the Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) credential exclusively to CPAs
who have demonstrated their expertise in personal financial planning
through testing, experience and learning, enabling them to gain
competence and confidence in PFP disciplines.

About the American Institute of CPAs

The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member
association representing the CPA profession, with more than 418,000
members in 143 countries, and a history of serving the public interest
since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including
business and industry, public practice, government, education and
consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S.
auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations,
federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform
CPA Examination, offers specialized credentials, builds the pipeline of
future talent and drives professional competency development to advance
the vitality, relevance and quality of the profession.

About the Association of International Certified Professional

The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (the
Association) combines the strengths of the American Institute of CPAs
(AICPA) and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) to
power opportunity, trust and prosperity for people, businesses and
economies worldwide. It represents 650,000 members and students in
public and management accounting and advocates for the public interest
and business sustainability on current and emerging issues. With broad
reach, rigor and resources, the Association advances the reputation,
employability and quality of CPAs, CGMAs and accounting and finance
professionals globally.


American Institute of CPAs
James Schiavone, 212-596-6119
Lynch, 212-596-6033