Late-life divorces may impact retirement plans

With the divorce rate for couples at or over the age of 50 increasing twofold from 1990 to 2010, some older Texas couples may have to take extra retirement precautions. Getting divorced later in life could potentially be harder because older individuals lack sufficient opportunities to save money and fortify themselves against heightened costs of living and limited income.

Couples should be proactive about reworking their estate plans and dividing property. Assets like retirement plans may be hard to manage before they have been transferred, and qualified domestic relations orders may need to be prepared and filed with the court.

Spouses should primarily consider factors like income and Social Security when they are negotiating settlement agreements. Financial experts say that in addition to being difficult to compute, divorce calculations that include pensions, insurance plans and similar assets may complicate emotional issues. Soon-to-be-separated couples are also advised to sell their family homes to make up for the large income drops experienced by men and women alike. These individuals can use the money they gain from their home sales along with any funds they save by moving to cheaper housing to rebuild their retirement portfolios.

Family law and retirement planning can intersect for different reasons. If the couple is unable to agree on property division, for example, the matter will be decided by the court, and this could produce an extremely adverse financial result for one or both parties. Many divorce attorneys will thus attempt to negotiate comprehensive settlement agreements on behalf of their respective clients that could produce fairer outcomes.