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How Does Divorce Later in Life Affect Retirement?

You likely got married with the idea that it would be for good. You worked together to build for your future, perhaps buying a home, investing in rental properties, and investing in retirement accounts. But things change, and the marriage that may have made you so happy before may now be making you miserable. The relationship may no longer be working for you, and you are ready to end it permanently with a divorce. But if you go through a so-called “gray divorce” later in life, you might risk losing a lot more than the marriage. You might be putting your retirement savings and other assets in jeopardy.

Typically, you can expect that whatever you and your spouse have worked so hard to save for your retirement will be cut in half when you divorce. You may think that’s just fine – you will have half the savings, but you’ll also have half the expenses. That’s far from true. You will likely have twice the expenses since you will be responsible for things like a mortgage, a car payment, and utilities for yourself, and you won’t have a partner to share those costs. You may be thinking that you’ll just keep the marital home that is already paid off, but that home will also be up for division – either by selling it and splitting the profits or by reducing your share of other assets by the amount of half the value of the home.

As an experienced Franklin divorce attorney, I fight to help my clients get the largest share that I can of the retirement savings and benefits, as well as the largest share of other assets, such as the marital home, investment properties, jewelry, or vehicles. To start, we look at all assets in both your name and your spouse’s, as well as assets in both of your names. We then make a list of all expected retirement benefits, including pensions, health insurance plans, and Social Security benefits.

As with other divorces, we then put together a picture of marital life, including how much each spouse worked and earned, what assets each spouse brought into the marriage, and so on. For example, a couple may have adopted traditional roles in which the man worked while the woman took care of the children and the home. The woman would have no retirement accounts or pensions in her name, and her Social Security income would be limited. Therefore, I would work to help her get the appropriate share of her husband’s retirement benefits. In another example, one spouse may have worked and saved before getting married. Therefore, I would work to try to exclude that amount from being claimed in any divorce settlement.

Sometimes, clients simply do not know the benefits to which they are entitled. For example, if you were married for 10 years, you have the right to receive Social Security benefits based on your spouse’s income record with Social Security. If you are nearing the cutoff, I might encourage you to delay filing to ensure that you are able to draw on those benefits.

Finally, I work with clients to try to investigate all assets and resources to ensure that there are no hidden benefits. When you are approaching retirement, you will likely have no source of income, and you will have additional medical needs. Therefore, it is important that you have as much financial support as possible in the form of savings, retirement benefits, and investments. Getting a divorce can cut those resources in half, so I work with my clients to try to preserve what they need for a healthy and stress-free retirement. That can include working with financial forensic investigators to find all financial resources.

There is a lot at stake when you get divorced later in life, sometimes after years or decades of marriage. Don’t risk your Golden Years becoming your Bronze Years. Call me today at (615) 791-8511 to schedule a free consultation or use my secure online form. As an experienced Franklin divorce lawyer, I help many clients just like you to protect their retirement as much as possible and try to get the settlement they deserve.