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Study finds many men still handle marital finances

The marriages of California couples older than 50 might be less likely to last than in previous decades. The divorce rate among older couples has doubled in the last two decades, and this could mean additional difficulties for people who have not participated in managing the household finances.

According to a report by UBS Global Management that looked at couples and divorced or widowed women with $250,000 or more in investable assets, the tendency for men to fall into the traditional role of handling investments occurs across generations. More than 60 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of baby boomer women said they did not make the investment decisions in their relationship. The study also found that significantly more men than women were confident in their knowledge of investment and that a majority of parents with children under 21 with comfortable with the idea of letting their daughter's hypothetical husband handle the marital finances.

However, women who have been widowed or divorced hold a different view on this approach. More than half said there were some financial surprises for them, and while not all were negative, they included learning about a spouse's overspending habits and hidden debts. Women who remarried were more likely to become active participants in the marital finances.

Getting a handle on the financial situation might be a priority for most people considering divorce, and for those who are not involved in marital finances, it could be a steep learning curve. It might help to get copies of as many financial documents as possible, including tax returns and bank statements. With this information, a person might consult an attorney to discuss how the financial situation will affect their divorce. Unless there is a prenuptial agreement, most debts and assets may be considered shared property in California.

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