Divorce – a life-changing event for both clients and financial planners — is on the decline. Across age groups, divorce rates among Americans have fallen about five percentage points since 1996, according to U.S. Census Bureau data on the subject. 

While 19% of married women aged 25 to 29 had divorced in 1996, 14% of that group had divorced in 2009 — a decrease of about 26%. The divorce rate among women 30 to 34 dropped to 21%, from 26% during the same period, according to the Census Bureau’s “Number, Timing and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009.”

Men divorced at later ages than women, the Census Bureau found. The majority of recently separated and divorced men were aged 35 to 54, whereas the majority of separated and divorced women were 25 to 44. Also, a failed marriage caused women to be worse off than men. Thirteen percent of recently separated men were below the poverty level, compared with 26% of recently separated women.

Declining rates notwithstanding, divorce will always be an issue among all clients, including higher-net-worth clients. Especially in the high-net-worth group, sometimes clients need money to pay for lawyers, forensic accountants and household expenses. In “Fighting Back,” in the February issue of Financial Planning, contributor Ingrid Case details how divorcing spouses use specialized divorce funding firms to finance the high costs involved in the process of splitting up.