As you get closer to retirement age, you may actually find yourself feeling quite nervous about leaving your job and embracing your golden years. For those in an unhappy marriage, retirement could sound infinitely worse than working for the rest of their lives. Imagine feeling trapped at home with someone you no longer relate well to or simply don't get along with for the rest of your life. It's common to feel that after so many years, you don't have any other option.
The truth is that it doesn't matter how long you've been married or what age you are. Divorce is always an option for ending an unhappy or unhealthy marriage. In fact, since the 1990s, divorce rates among adults age 50 or higher have basically doubled. Many factors contribute to this increase, including longer life expectancy and decreasing social stigma for divorce. If you're considering a gray divorce, however, you should take a moment to consider the potential impact on your retirement.
You'll probably have to dip into your assets to pay for a divorce
Unless you have an ironclad prenuptial agreement or have already decided on terms with your spouse, a divorce is probably going to be expensive. Even if you never had children or your children are all already adults living on their own, the process can quickly become messy. After all those years together, you will have accumulated substantial amounts of assets, as well as some debts.
If you can't agree with your spouse about what's fair, the Florida courts will need to decide for you. Unfortunately, that can mean long deliberations and multiple days in court, asserting your wishes. The costs associated with a litigated divorce can quickly add up to be thousands of dollars. You will likely need to tap into your savings and other assets to pay for the divorce.
You can expect to split your retirement and pension with your spouse
One issue that confuses many people about gray divorce is how the courts handle retirement accounts and pensions. Some people mistakenly believe that accounts in one spouse's name are separate property, not subject to division in divorce. However, the courts won't care if the pension is employer-sponsored and the other spouse never directly contributed.
Those funds are still likely marital property. Even if the other spouse wasn't employed, his or her contributions in the home are one reason why the other spouse could focus so well on work and earn such a good income. While the approach to splitting up a retirement account or pension may differ in each divorce, in most cases, those assets will be subject to division, along with your home and other possessions.