Divorce and Retirement

By Wendy Fisher, Retirement-Online.com

Divorce and Retirement - those two words just don't sound congruent, do they? Divorce around the time of retirement seems quite incompatible to me... but it happens.

Retirement and Divorce happens to long time 30 year marriages, as well as newer marriages that simply don't bear the test of time.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

Before you go through a divorce, you might consider a Legal Marriage Separation instead. Just another divorce option while you are in the "maybe" stage.

Evaluate your Marriage versus Divorce

First, evaluate your marriage and be honest with yourself -- how good was good and how bad was bad? Is it possible that you should try again? Did you stay together just because it was simpler than divorce? Was he/she controlling?

Everything suddenly changes -- good or bad -- depending on how you handle it. It's YOUR choice on how you live the rest of your life.. it really is!

Divorce and Peace Exists...

If you choose divorce, think twice about how YOU approach it. A Divorce at Retirement might just be the Freedom you always wanted. For one gal at my church, it is... I've never seen a retired woman so "happy go lucky" and this gal just glows (despite a recent divorce after a 30 year marriage). She doesn't have all the financial resources she needs (that's not it at all), but she is happy!

Just think -- she doesn't have to cook meals if she feels like running out instead. She can do crafts all day and leave them on the dining room table for a month (grin!). She might take an adult education course, volunteer for church, meet friends for the buy 1 - get 1 free lunches, whatever she chooses to do!

She can come and go as you please... nobody to report to, just her own new found freedom, her own way with the world.

Divorce and Retirement: Splitting Assets

Finances... your divorce lawyer will help you sort through the equitable split in your divorce monies and household items. Beware: an divorce attorney can totally help you; but the split depends on the couple agreeing on it all. Any attorney will charge you for every call, every court appearance -- so be fair and try to settle between the two of you as much as possible.

Save your monies for a long retirement, instead of making a divorce attorney richer.. Grin!

Divorce and Retirement: Always Understand your Finances

Now, you might have a good understanding on how finances are handled in your household. BOTH partners should always be aware of where important documents are located and how much you have in savings, and how expenses fit in your life. If you don't know, find out... always be aware of what your financial situation is.

If you are considering divorce, start documenting and copying some financial documents now. Plan ahead so you know what is out there in case funds are missing later...

Pension and Divorce

All company pensions in divorce are part of the marital assets to be split. Domestic Relations Orders (below) are the court document itself.

Divorce Court Order: Domestic Relations Order

Assuming you divorce, does the court order a Domestic Relations Order to split a company pension? QDRO / EDRO's are court orders issued in divorce situations to assure that spouses share an employers retirement benefits. If a divorce happens after years of marriage, don't miss out on this benefit, PLEASE don't simply forfeit your rights to a future benefit...

Follow your Intuition if Something Just Feels Wrong

Finally, BEWARE! We all know darn well that some spouses lie and cheat -- not all of them, but some do. If you even think something odd is happening, trust your intuition and watch closely.

Why blind yourself (it's called "denial", right?) if something is happening and you choose not to recognize it? If nothing else, get copies of all your financial statements, in case you need them some day....

Your Intuition and Denial

One woman was married for 30 years, and her husband pushed her towards retirement. He came to my office to help her in the retirement decisions, and calmed her retirement jitters -- just like hundreds of other husbands have over the years. Fine.

NOT SO FINE -- within months, he was living in Florida (she was still in Michigan) with a "blond bimbo" as she calls the new partner.

Unfortunately, her retirement was locked in, he gets her lifetime pension at her death. She is suddenly retired, single, and can't make it on her pension alone. She is two years from Social Security. She returns to work, sells her home, lives with reduced living expenses on a smaller income, and try to work through the huge emotional burden of betrayal. There were signs, she didn't see them until it was too late.

Now, who knows... this may have been complete Freedom for her, in the end, or maybe not. I only know about her shock at the betrayal AFTER she completed her retirement paperwork. I hope and pray she found peace... and happiness!

Relationships after Divorce

What about new relationships after divorce? Do you go there?

Divorce is never nice... especially in retirement when you assumed you'd grow old together.


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