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Massachusetts gray divorce presents unique financial challenges

Statistics show that divorces among seniors, known as gray divorce, is becoming more commonplace in Massachusetts and elsewhere. However, a divorce of this nature poses unique challenges. When a couple has spent many years saving for retirement and amassing other financial assets together, it can be delicate work to divide up these assets in a way that allows both spouses to maintain a retirement plan.

A divorce can cause most people to take a second look at their finances, but someone who is near retirement or already retired may have to carefully reconsider his or her goals. A couple usually splits their retirement savings in a divorce settlement, which may make some retirement plans unfeasible. Each spouse may do well to evaluate his or her financial situation post-divorce to determine which retirement goals are still doable and how to fund them.

Even if a spouse receives alimony or child support, it is likely that his or her budget will change after the divorce. It may be helpful for divorced seniors to look at how they spend in the present to see if any adjustments need to be made for the future. Making a few sacrifices may ensure that there is more money later on for retirement. Under certain circumstances, divorced seniors are eligible to receive retirement benefits on their ex-spouse’s Social Security, which can be an important source of additional retirement income.

Divorce is a complex and emotional process for any couple, but a gray divorce could have the potential to greatly impact each partner’s financial future and retirement goals. Massachusetts couples who are dividing retirement assets may need to seek legal advice before starting the divorce process to see if their situation requires a qualified domestic relation order (QDRO). Thinking ahead about how to work around the challenging financial issues may help each spouse move on with a positive outlook for retirement.

Source: Huffington Post, “Going Through A Gray Divorce? Focus On Your Retirement Savings,” Suzanna de Baca, Jan. 9, 2013

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