A survey by Bowling Green University found that if you are going to divorce, it may be better to do it earlier, especially if you are a woman.

The report discovered that a single 63-year-old woman who had divorced after turning 50 was nine times more likely to be in poverty than if she had stayed married or had remarried. She was also over twice as likely to be in poverty than her ex-husband if he remained single. It is important to note that she would still be six times more prone to poverty had she divorced earlier than if she stayed in her marriage or remarried.

Does that mean women need to stay in unhappy marriages? Not at all. It does mean they need to consider the financial consequences carefully before making their decision.

Many people wait until they are older to divorce so that they no longer have the expense of children to worry about. However, the study found that women’s living standards dropped 45%, and men’s by 21% when they divorced aged 50 or older. Divorcing had less effect on the finances of younger people.

When considering divorce as a woman in her 50s or older, you need to calculate how you will finance the rest of your life. If your healthcare depends on your spouse’s employer, you will need to budget for taking out your own. If you hoped for an income from your partner’s Social Security benefits, remember you will only get this if you were married for 10 years or more.

While this may paint a grim picture, sometimes financial hardship is a far preferable option to staying married. Once you calculate your future financial needs, an attorney can help you strive to get them covered in your divorce settlement.