Later Divorce and Retirement

While divorce rates are down overall, some North Carolina couples may be statistically more likely to end their marriages than ever before. People over 50 have been getting divorced at an increasing rate since 1990. With the likelihood higher than ever before, married people are advised that getting divorced later can make things difficult financially and have a negative impact on retirement.

Divorce at any age can have a negative impact on income. Statistics show that women have a harder hit to their income after it happens than men, but men have an income decline as well. When divorce comes later, it could create the need to work past retirement age to help with finances.

Another thing that could be considered when a couple is contemplating divorce is health insurance. If a spouse will lose their coverage after divorce, they will be eligible for Medicare at age 65. Delaying divorce until then could provide considerable savings for that spouse. It is also necessary for a marriage to last at least 10 years in order for a spouse to be eligible to collect Social Security benefits based on their ex-spouse’s contributions. Retirement accounts may be split after a divorce, but not necessarily equally. This will in many cases require a qualified domestic relations order, and the tax treatment of withdrawals can differ based upon the age of the recipient and the type of plan.

In North Carolina, it is necessary for an estranged couple to be separated for a year before they can obtain an absolute divorce. That year could be used by the couple to attend mediation sessions and work with their respective attorneys in negotiating settlement terms.