When it comes to investments, most of the focus tends to be on men. Similarly, when it comes to protecting assets during a divorce, the focus once again falls on men. Yet, in many Massachusetts households, women are breadwinners too.
These financially savvy women may have invested some of their savings for retirement. The investments may also help cushion them against the wide pay gap that exists between themselves and their male colleagues at work. What happens to this money if they divorce? Will they have to share it with their husbands?
Closing the wage gap
NBC News estimates that in 2017, the wage gap stood at 20%. Another 40 years may pass before that gap closes. When it does, women will finally earn the same wages as male colleagues in identical positions with the same qualifications.
Until then, the news agency recommends that women invest rather than merely save their income. This provides a better opportunity for closing the wage gap on an individual level. Currently, only 29% of women invest. For these women, protecting their investments during a divorce is of great importance.
Even though gender roles are gradually changing, many men still hold on to the traditional ideals of masculinity. This may work in a woman’s favor as men often view taking money from their wives as emasculating. Thus, even after including the investment accounts in the marital assets, the husband may feel reluctant to make any claims to the balance.
Women may provide better safeguards for their investments by starting their investment journey before marriage. After marriage, wives may try to use income that does not typically count as marital property to invest. This may include gifts from family and friends, money from a trust fund or an inheritance passed specifically to them.
Women may also consider postnuptial and prenuptial agreements for additional protection. Note that because Massachusetts is an equitable distribution state, women face fewer difficulties safeguarding their investment accounts during a divorce than those in community property states.