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Why Older Couples Are Skipping Marriage

Reflecting on their retirement
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By Sharon Epperson | @sharon_epperson

Many baby boomers already know a thing or two about marriage and are choosing not to tie the knot on their relationships -- often because of money.

U.S. Census Bureau data shows adults older than 50 are among the fastest growing segment of unmarried couples in the U.S.

Financial advisers say concerns about debt, benefits, taxes and cash flow are often the primary reasons they decide not to walk down the aisle.

"The biggest considerations couples have in deciding whether or not to remarry usually center around their children and assets," says Molly McCormack, a director of individual advisory services at TIAA-CREF.

If you're divorced and chose to remarry, you could lose alimony, pension and Social Security benefits from your former spouse. If you're widowed, you could also lose survivor's pension benefits, McCormack says.

Some couples may also want to make sure inheritances go to their own children and don't get muddled.

A partner may also be helping out adult children financially -- by paying off student loans or co-signing on a mortgage -- and the new partner doesn't want to take on that financial burden. In addition to mortgage, student loan and credit card debt, long-term care and medical debt are frequent concerns.

Under the law in "community property" states -- Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin -- most debts incurred by one spouse during the marriage are owed by both spouses.

Many higher income couples also don't want to face a bigger tax hit. Getting married could throw them into the highest tax bracket which would result in a much higher tax burden.

But when two people live together, money matters can be murky. Financial advisers say it is important to make expectations clear.
  • Be specific with one another about expenses and who will pay for what. Determine what is yours, mine and ours.
  • Make sure assets are properly titled, including the home you live in and other property and/or small businesses.
  • Have a will, health care proxy, and power of attorney for finances. If you want your partner to have certain assets or to have control over your medical care or finances, if you are unable to do so, you must have in writing in the proper legal documents.
"Make sure you communicate your wishes in your estate plan with your children, too," says New York-based financial adviser Stacy Francis. "Avoid any surprises."

Most important, whether you choose to say "I Do" or not, make a vow to always be financially independent.

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I am over 50. I will never marry, or live with a significant other again. Why? Because as a woman, I'm likely to be in better health than a man (statistically speaking). I don't intend to play nursemaid in my retirement. Why? Because I have and continue to work hard to ensure that I will have a comfortable retirement. I worked for it, I earned it, and I am not going to lose at least half of it to a man. I don't intend to play wife or mother in my retirement. I have never wanted those things, and I'm not about to start now. I will not cook, clean, shop, work and put out for nothing in return. Do I sound bitter? Perhaps I am. I may be bitter, but I am not a meal ticket, a lodging service, a chauffeur, a nursemaid, a cleaning woman, an ATM or a concubine. That is why I will never marry again. Once was enough.

June 10 2014 at 4:58 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tfarnon's comment

@ tfarnon --- Sometimes, you can lose half of what you have worked hard to accumulate, without even getting married. I live in Oregon. State law stipulates that, if a man moves in and lives with a woman for at least two years, he is then LEGALLY entitled to claim half of all money and assets of value that she has, even if he leaves after the two-year time period has been reached.

A LOT can happen in two years. The woman might discover that the man is an abusive control freak --- and she wants OUT of this live-in arrangement. Nevertheless, he is going to walk away with half of her net worth. And, since it is a state law, she can't contest this legalized rip-off in court.

I'm also over 50 and widowed. Do I want remarriage? No. Do I want a live-in arrangement with a man? That is a BIG NO. I am very content, being single, living alone. I do whatever I want to, whenever I want to do it, without answering to a man for my decisions or having my daily activities dictated by his wants or needs.

I worked hard, for many years, to have a comfortable retirement. I'm not going to do anything to put that at risk.

I am far from being alone in my thinking, about this. At least 70% of older women do NOT want either marriage or a live-in arrangement. Older men, however, are still stuck in their 1950's mindset and think a woman should be thrilled to wait on them hand and foot. Pfooey on that.

June 10 2014 at 10:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Friendship is very important for someone who is older, marriage not so much.

June 10 2014 at 2:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

What most women don't realize is that men will respond in like kind. A gentle loving woman can expect the same back from a man. However, too many people have become greedy selfish, self absorbed and really only care about themselves. Even the baby boomer generation has become rabid to a level never seen before. Men no longer trust women because of their love of money and spending it, women think all men are pigs and will cheat the first chance they get when in reality the cheating rate is about equal between men and women. So why get married? you have a 50/50 chance of cutting your own throat and being tossed to the curb in the process. Foe men just call 1-800-hooker; women 1-888-dong

June 09 2014 at 8:03 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Because Marriage has been devalued

June 09 2014 at 6:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

another story: my ex wife's grandfather- who was a multimillionaire- remarried and when he died all of his money was hers and when she died all of her kid's got his money! ya gotta love it.

story number 2: my aunt on my father's side married a guy worth about ten million... after he died she spent all but 3 million of it. my cousin- her daughter- was a criminal and had been in and out of prison for ripping off old people in retirement homes, moved in with my aunt when she was sick and dying. by the time my aunt died, she'd had about $700k left, a big old top-of-the-line motor home and a nice, paid-for house. my dad was executor and my cousin cashed out everything and within a year she'd spent it all and was broke. she begged my dad for money and you can guess how well that went.

June 09 2014 at 2:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

newly divorced in 2003, at age 42, most of the women i found in the dating pool had lousy incomes, huge debt, terrible credit and the one i did meet who made a good income and was financially responsbile wanted to get married so she wouldn't have to work anymore! i was supposed to 'take care of her' like her married sisters! yeah, i'll take care of you... get the hell out of my car... your blöwjöbs aren't THAT good.

also, i went to pick up a woman for a first date and she refused to get into my post-divorce '94 pontiac grand prix- which i paid for in cash and it was in pristine condition (i still have it and have restored it to factory condition)- so i drove off leaving her standing there and went to the casino. as i was stacking up the green chips like nobody's business and chatting up this hot asian woman, this broad calls me and was screaming at me for taking off!

June 09 2014 at 2:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


June 09 2014 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Absolutely no advantage to remarrying after 50 in my book, for all the reasons cited below in previous comments. Just make sure that your wills / trusts are up to date.

June 09 2014 at 12:54 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to bagthepi's comment


Why limit not remarrying to "after 50"? Instead to protect your financial assets, don't get ever married and prevent any possibility of ever getting divorced. Certainly never get married without a prenuptial agreement drawn up by an attorney who specialzes in prenuptial agreements. It'll cost a lot less in attorney's fees before a marriage than their fees afterwards.

June 09 2014 at 3:29 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to n738's comment

And make sure you do not live in a community property state.

June 09 2014 at 6:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

I have been a widow for nineteen years. A relationship would have been nice but I like my independence. I wouldn't have remarried because of that. The financial matters would also enter into the picture. Better to not complicate things. I see no moral justification for getting married after childbearing years.

June 09 2014 at 11:14 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to eloise's comment

I agree. I have been a widow for 20 years and I like living alone although I have a male friend who often spends the weekend. I don't want the responsibility for such things as cooking every meal, cleaning up after someone else, doing his laundry, etc.
I love my single life.

June 09 2014 at 1:50 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply

The government should not be treating people differently for purposes of taxes or benefits or anything else simply because they say that they are married or not. Marriage is simply a contract and two or more people should be allowed to enter into a contract if they so choose. They can call it a marriage if they wish; they can call it a ham sandwich if they want; they can seek the blessing of their faith community, or not; it's not the government's business. Like any contact, the government's only interest is providing a forum to adjudicate the particulars of the contract if a dispute arises.

June 09 2014 at 10:26 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply