Families are changing.
About one-third of unmarried couples living together are same-sex couples, according to a recent survey, by Allianz Life, of women with household incomes greater than $30,000. Based on U.S. Census statistics, that's close to 1 million U.S. couples.
This lifestyle is increasingly accepted with Minnesota being the 12th state to make same-sex marriage legal (along with Washington, D.C.), but same-sex relationships still come with unique financial concerns. Katie Libbe, Allianz's vice president of consumer insights, points out that until all states and the federal government legalize same-sex marriage, homosexual couples "have to really pay attention and seek help just to accomplish the same things" heterosexual, married couples receive automatically.
More than 80 percent of same-sex female couples say their family situation requires them to be "financially aware and independent." And while 70 percent of women married to opposite-sex spouses say that they feel confident that they can depend on their husbands for financial support, only 50 percent of women in same-sex relations told Allianz that's true of their relationships.
These issues apparently add to the challenge of saving for retirement. About 58 percent of same-sex couples say "lack of adequate retirement savings" ranks among their top three financial concerns. Among heterosexual married couples, just 35 percent said lack of retirement savings is among their big three worries.
When it comes to children, families headed by same-sex female couples aren't much different than other sorts of families. Twenty-two percent have children younger than 18 who live with them, while 9 percent have offspring older than 18 living at home. Those numbers are only slightly lower than those of unmarried heterosexual couples and almost identical to divorced and widowed families.
One noticeable difference is that zero percent of this segment told Allianz that they had their parents or other adult relatives living with them. While this could relieve them of responsibility, it also suggests that they may lack family support networks.
Libbe says this research shows that it is especially important for same-sex couples to start retirement planning early, so they have time to save. She also says it is important for them to get savvy financial and legal advice from experts who understand their often complex situations.