How retirement is affected by divorce

Posted by Lauren S. CohenJul 24, 20190 Comments

According to statistics gathered by the Pew Research Center, the rate of divorce for people age 50 and over has doubled since 1990. While divorce at any age can be very difficult, couples who separate after turning 50 face a more immediate challenge regarding their retirement. For some people in New York, there is little risk, but others may face a more difficult path ahead if they don't meet certain criteria.

Social Security is the largest source of retirement income for Americans. That's why spouses who never worked may be worried that they'll lose these benefits after a separation. However, an ex-spouse could be entitled to 50% of their former partner's full Social Security benefits even after divorce. This only remains true if the marriage lasted at least 10 years and the recipient remains unmarried. Furthermore, these benefits will only be granted if the person's own Social Security income is not worth more than 50% of the ex-spouse's.

Retirement accounts like 401(k)s, pensions and IRAs are subject to division in a divorce. A qualified domestic relations order will describe how these assets will be divided. Homes are also an important source of retirement security. Some couples will sell the house and split the money while others will have one person stay in the house and pay out the other for their half.

Dividing retirement assets during a divorce can be very complicated. That's why each party may want to have an attorney on their side to make sure their financial interests are protected. An attorney can help their client obtain the retirement funds they are entitled to while minimizing their tax burden.