If you are considering divorce after 50, you might be worried about ruining your retirement. First of all, you should know you aren’t alone in this concern. Overall divorce rates across the county may have gone down, but one group where divorce rates have actually become more common is couples over 50. Because of this trend, many Americans, especially women, have been forced to keep working long into their golden years. Here are some thoughts on how to get a divorce without losing your savings.
How to Get a Divorce Without Ruining Your Retirement
- Take inventory: Before you make any big decisions, go through all your wealth, income and expenses to really figure out the details of your financial situation. If you can, try to do this for your spouse as well. You might think you have a good idea about your spending habits, but many are surprised when they really take a closer look. This will help you be more realistic when you start planning for the future. Don’t go in blind.
- Look for extra income: There are steps you can take to avoid a bad financial situation, but for most people, there is no avoiding the major blow that comes from losing a spouse’s income. You can look for ways to compensate for this, such as selling the house, renting part of the house, taking on extra work or taking your social security earlier than you had previously planned. Alternatively, you may consider adjusting your portfolio away from growth opportunities and towards opportunities with regular payouts like dividends. To the extent that you can’t make up for the loss of income, you will have to consider adjusting your lifestyle and spending. Living alone typically does not reduce spending enough to make up for the loss of a second income.
- Maximize benefits: Not all assets are created equal when it comes to divorce. For example, assets in a pretax account such as an IRA will eventually get taxed, where assets in a normal brokerage account were already taxed as income. Depending on your situation, you will want to take a healthy balance of assets that will benefit you during retirement and assets with the liquidity you will need to stay afloat in the short-term. You should consider working with your attorney and financial advisor to ensure you are selecting your share of the assets intelligently.
Preparing for retirement can be a complicated and difficult financial experience. Divorce only makes things harder. Hopefully, these tips will give you a sense for what sort of questions you should be asking yourself and your attorney as you move towards this important milestone.