Divorce comes at all ages and times, but for those in their 50's and older it can mean identifying and dealing with some unique situations. If you are considering parting ways with your partner and you fall into that age group, you should take steps now to protect your financial interests. You may be nearing the end of your income producing years, so read on to learn more.
Although Social Security retirement income cannot come into play with a divorce agreement, it's definitely in your best interest to pay attention to how divorce affects this valuable asset. If you have been married at least 10 years, you are eligible to draw one-half of your spouse's Social Security benefits when you reach full retirement age. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will provide you with the highest benefit, whether it be your own or one-half of your spouses. This does not affect your ex-spouse's benefit amount, and it doesn't matter whether or not they remarry. If you remarry, however, you cannot draw your ex's benefit. You may also be in line for survivor benefits if your ex dies.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order
This order allows divorcing spouses to take part of a retirement fund, like a 401(k) without paying fees or penalties. The QDRO must be done during the divorce and signed by a judge before the divorce is final, so don't neglect this important way to add to or start your own retirement fund. You must roll the money over into another qualified account before taxes are due, however, since it is considered income.
This form of retirement savings is considered martial property but the laws about dividing it can vary depending on whether you live in a community property state or an equitable distribution state. This can be a highly contentious issue, with the person who worked for the money feeling that they are entitled to the full amount. In most cases, the amount earned before the marriage is exempt, but the amount in pensions after the date of marriage might be divided. Speak with your attorney to know what you are entitled to and what you may end up forfeiting.
Also known as alimony, this form of financial support can be a game-changer for older spouses who have less resources to find adequate work. The spouse who has earned less because of placing a priority on the needs of the children may be at an extreme disadvantage when it comes time to divorce, if not for spousal support. Another issue is poor health and medical issues that might prevent or hamper a spouse's efforts to seek employment. This is what spousal support is for, so don't hesitate to ask for what you need.
Contact a lawyer, like Maruca Law, for more help.