'Women poorer, men lonelier' after divorce

WOMEN'S household incomes suffer more than men's after divorce, but it takes men longer to recover emotionally, a study has found.

WOMEN'S household incomes suffer more than men's after divorce, but it takes men longer to recover emotionally, a study has found.

The joint research, led by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, also highlights the significant impact divorce has on the financial assets of divorcees, which leads to many requiring greater government support in later life.

The research to be presented at the institute's conference in Melbourne later this week shows the household income after divorce declined for women, but not for men.

In fact, while women's household income dropped significantly, particularly in the first year after divorce, males' income continued to rise. While the research showed some women were able to return to their pre-divorce income after six years through re-partnering, increased labour force participation and government benefits, this was not the case for divorced women with dependent children, who found it more difficult to combine paid work with family responsibilities.

The report based on data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey also showed that divorced men and women have fewer household assets than their married and never-married counterparts.

While the assets of those who divorce are worth $180,000 to $190,000 less than non-divorced people, even before divorce, the gap doubles to $360,000 to $390,000, six years after divorce.

Institute senior research fellow Dr Lixia Qu said for divorcees who did not re-partner, a lack of assets could lead to a greater reliance on government benefits.

"Divorce has a big impact on both men and women whose assets continue to fall behind married households and this impacts significantly on retirement income for divorced men and women who remained single, making them more reliant on government support to get by," she said.

Heidelberg mother-of-two Isabella Mammoliti, who was forced to return to work after her divorce in 2007, says it is not just the immediate financial burden of being a single parent that causes her "distress", but the long-term financial impact.

"My biggest worry is that I hadn't worked for over seven years and that's going to affect my superannuation in the future . . . I've also had to sell the family home, which has not only had an emotional impact on the children but will have a long-term financial impact."

The study which also looked at the emotional wellbeing of divorcees revealed that men reported greater feelings of isolation and loneliness than women, even up to six years after divorce.

After two years of divorce, 24 per cent of men said they felt isolated, compared with 12 per cent of women. After six years, more men (19 per cent) than women (12 per cent) still reported feelings of isolation.

Meanwhile, 35 per cent of men reported feeling "very lonely" two years after divorce, compared with 25 per cent of women and after six years, 26 per cent of men still reported loneliness compared with 20 per cent of women.


- The annual income of divorced women decreased by an average $10,000 in the first year after divorce for men it increased by an average of $7000.

- After six years, womens average income was $3000 more than their pre-divorce income compared with $13,000 for men.

- 80 per cent of divorced women with no dependent children were employed two years after divorce compared with 60 per cent of women with dependent children.

- 19 per cent of men reported feeling isolation six years after divorce, compared to 12 per cent of women.


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