When people decide to divorce after retirement or as retirement approaches, they might be more financially vulnerable than younger individuals who get a divorce. Younger people have more years ahead of them in the workplace to recover financially that may not be available to older adults.
This means it is important for older adults to have a good idea of what they will require financially for their lifestyle after divorce as well as what their marital finances are. They should create a list of their individual and marital property, including appraisal values for items such as antiques and art. In some divorces, one person might be concerned that their spouse will try to hide assets, and there may be legal steps that can prevent this.
People’s priorities after divorce will vary with some focused on building up an emergency fund, others hoping to help their children or grandchildren with their education or other financial challenges, and still others seeking personal enrichment through travel. Some people might start a foundation or volunteer in the community. Based on these choices, people can make decisions about what they need in the divorce settlement. They should be aware that retirement accounts, often a major asset for older couples, have specific rules around division in divorce based on whether they are annuities, 401(k)s, IRAs or pension plans.
In a high-asset divorce, people may need to divide foreign real estate, business interests, offshore accounts and other complicated assets. There may be substantial taxes on the sale of some assets, and there may be issues around one person needing liquidity to buy out the other for such property as homes and businesses. Despite these complexities, couples may still be able to successfully negotiate an agreement with their attorneys out of court that satisfies both of them.