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Pitfalls when divorcing near retirement

Illinois residents who are older than 50 might be more likely to get a divorce than younger couples. Studies show that while divorce is down among most age groups, older adults have a higher divorce rate than they did 20 years ago. Divorcing at this age can present some unique challenges.

People who have retired or who are close to retirement age may be more vulnerable to financial hardship than those who still have many earning years ahead of them. The process of dividing property can be long, emotional and expensive, and in some cases, a person may agree to unfavorable financial terms simply to get the divorce over with more quickly. The problem with this is that it can leave a person ill-prepared for retirement. Health care costs and long-term care needs may combine with inflation to leave a person destitute.

Furthermore, after many years together, couples may find friends and family members taking sides. This can also result in emotional difficulty.

A person who is going through a divorce around retirement age might want to talk to an attorney about strategies that will help with financial stability. Whether the person is planning to negotiate property division with a spouse or the case has to go to litigation because the two cannot reach an agreement, having goals in place may help a person stay focused on these needs instead of on emotions. When splitting up assets, people should also be aware that there may be taxes, penalties and other associated costs. For example, some pension plans have explicit rules that must be followed, and to split a 401(k) without paying tax or penalty, a document known as a qualified domestic relations order is needed. Failing to follow these rules may cost significant financial damage.

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