Divorce After 50 and Your Retirement

Divorce rates are surging in the 50 and older age group.  Today, divorce for those 50 and older has more than doubled since the 90’s!  Divorce can be complicated at any age. However, older couples usually have more financial consequences. The financial consequences are particularly fraught when a couple has to divide their retirement funds. Traditionally, older couples have more assets. Retirement accounts can be the cause of many arguments. Older people may be unable to correct poor retirement planning decisions. Retirement divorce planning is very important. Retirement assets are not always equally divided in a divorce settlement.

Give Your Spouse the House
Many people assume a house is their largest asset. The marital home could be a liability as the value might plummet. Also, the home will have property taxes due every year. A well-diversified portfolio can be a better retirement funding option.

Do Not Overlook Retirement Account Withdrawal Fees
If you have not paid taxes on your retirement accounts, you will have to give away some of your money. The government will take a percentage of your pre-tax retirement accounts. You will not have to pay taxes on your after-tax savings accounts.

Moving Your Spouse’s Retirement Account May Have Financial Consequences
Some divorcing spouses can withdraw money from their ex’s pre-tax retirement accounts without owing the usual 10 percent tax penalty. The QDRO allows you to use the money to pay for your divorce expenses. If you withdraw the money after it has been moved to your account, you will have to pay the usual 10 percent tax penalty.

Do Not Take Too Much Money Out of Retirement Accounts
Many people are overly excited about avoiding the tax penalty, and they take extra money for shopping and vacations. Remember, you will need your retirement funds in the future. If you spend the money on frivolous purchases, you will panic when you need the money at a later date.

Be Mindful of Social Security
An ex-spouse can claim a social security spousal benefit.  The spousal benefit does come with stipulations; the marriage had to be at least 10 years, and the divorcee cannot remarry. The ex’s social security payments will not affect the primary beneficiary’s social security payments.

Get a Prenuptial Agreement for Your Second Marriage
If you tie the knot again, you should consider signing a prenuptial agreement. The agreement will protect your finances. Without a prenuptial agreement, your retirement accounts can be divided again after a second divorce.

In most divorces, one partner has a solid understanding of the couple’s finances. If you do not know how much money is in the retirement accounts, you will need to take an inventory of your marital assets. Also, do not underestimate your expenses when you are thinking about your retirement divorce planning. You will have to adjust your spending after the divorce, so you should be prepared for major lifestyle changes.